El Faro Announces Online Premiere of Award-Winning Documentary “Unforgivable” - ElFaro.net
El Faro Announces Online Premiere of Award-Winning Documentary “Unforgivable”

El Salvador


El Faro Announces Online Premiere of Award-Winning Documentary “Unforgivable”

The online premiere of “Unforgivable,” a short documentary directed by Marlén Viñayo and produced by El Faro and La Jaula Abierta, will take place via El Faro’s website next February 5th. The movie has already been recognized in multiple international film festivals and has won some of the most important awards in the documentary film industry.


The online premiere of the documentary “Unforgivable” will take place on El Faro's website on Friday, February 5. The film will be available for rent through Vimeo On Demand for $3.99 USD through Monday, February 8.

Unforgivable is the first Salvadoran film qualified to compete for an Oscar nomination. It was named Best Short Documentary in three important film festivals in Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands, and is now part of the final selection in 12 other festivals in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It was selected by the International Documentary Association as one of the 10 best short films of 2020. 

This January, it was named Best Short Documentary at the POY Latam Awards, which celebrate the best visual journalism in Iberoamerica. Unforgivable director Marlén Viñayo was also named “Ibero-American filmmaker of the year.”

The film is now in the first round of competition before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization which organizes the Oscars each year. In order to qualify and be considered for a nomination, the Academy requires that short documentaries aiming to compete earn a prize in its category in at least one of the festivals accredited by the Academy, known as “qualifying festivals.” Unforgivable obtained an award in three: the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Guanajuato International Film Festival, in Mexico; and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), in the Netherlands. The latter is considered the most important documentary film festival around the globe.

The list of countries where the film will be available for rent as of February 5 excludes Spain and Australia, where the movie is taking part in film festivals that restrict its simultaneous local exhibition.

Just after midnight, El Salvador time, on February 5, viewers will find the steps to make an online payment and watch the documentary listed on El Faro's website. 

“I am very glad and excited to be able to share this movie with the public, especially here in El Salvador, and I hope the story fosters discussions and deep reflections upon the society we live in,” Viñayo, director of Unforgivable, said a few days before the premiere. 



“It’s easier to kill a man than to love one”

The film, which was shot in May of 2019 inside the San Francisco Gotera prison located in the eastern department of Morazán, portraits the everyday life of a group of incarcerated former gang members who decided to come out as gay.

The film producers have outlined the story as follows: “Geovanny, a ruthless hitman for the 18th Street gang, serves his prison sentence at an Evangelical jail, where he is not only guilty of his crimes, but of an unforgivable sin for both the church and the gangs: being gay.”

During the film shooting, the main characters were huddled in a small prison cell in the prison’s isolation wing, known as ‘Zope island.´ For the director and the camera team, led by director of photography Neil Brandvold, the location posed one of the main challenges: managing to disappear or fade into the background inside such a tiny space.

The film director, Marlén Viñayo, insists that this is not a movie about gangs. “And in the same way, I don’t think this is a documentary about homosexuality,” she said to El Faro just a few days before the film premiere. A career filmmaker who has been based in El Salvador for the past eight years, Viñayo disregards any possible interpretations of the story that refuse to see beyond the tip of the iceberg: “It is true that our characters are all former gang members and are also homosexual, but with this movie, we look to depict a society with a broken moral compass.”

Carlos Martínez, journalist at El Faro who wrote the script along with Viñayo, has spent more than a decade covering gangs in Central America. He reiterates the Viñayo’s argument. “What the director and I intended to do was not produce a movie about gangs, but an attempt to foster reflection on the society we have built, a society where it makes sense to pronounce the verb ‘to kill’ next to the verb ‘to love,’” Martínez explained.

“From that extreme location, an isolation cell in a gang prison, our goal was to foster a global reflection on the societies we live in,” Martínez added. He maintains that “it's the responsibility of journalists, and that of our first cousins, documentary makers, to not divert our gaze and pretend that there is no pink elephant in the middle of the room.” 

The movie lasts 35 minutes and is produced in accordance with observational documentary standards. The soundtrack was produced by Salvadoran artist Omnionn, and edited by Spaniard filmmaker Andrea Bilbao. The film also has the contributions of photojournalists Víctor Peña and Patrick Tombola. 

'Unforgivable' Official Film Poster
'Unforgivable' Official Film Poster

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