This searing doc profiles inhabitants of La Sierra, a ghetto in Medellin, Colombia, where rival street gangs engage in a bloody turf war with leftist guerillas. Against a backdrop of constant gunfire, we meet a doped-out teen soldier named Jesus, a 17-year-old mother named Cielo, and Edison, an intelligent, 22-year-old paramilitary leader who longs for peace.
"La Sierra" lets the young residents and gunmen in a notorious Colombian slum speak for themselves, revealing their attitudes toward death, prison, and endemic violence. The filmmakers' great achievement, aside from avoiding the constant crossfire, is capturing the rhythm of life and love in a community too often ignored or demonized in the mainstream press. It's a hellish environment, but far from inhuman.