When most people think of movie piracy, they think of entitled suburbanites who don’t want to cough up 10 bucks to go to the movies. But what of a country where access to art house or classic films is limited? The new short documentary from Vice’s Motherboard site, “Bootleg Cinema Paradiso,” puts a spotlight on a place where movie piracy isn’t just widespread, but possibly essential to encouraging cinephilia.
The short follows bootleg distributor Santos Demonios and his friend, El Chino, who runs a bootleg DVD store in a Lima shopping mall. The two speak of the unavailability of independent films in Peru, not to mention the slow internet speeds that make Instant Viewing on Netflix more trouble than it’s worth. Chino and Demonios give people in Peru (and other South American countries, as many people travel just to buy bootlegs) a chance to brush up on Godard, Truffaut, Hitchcock, and modern art house hits like “The Act of Killing” and “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” The store has become so popular that noted directors, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, have dropped by.
Demonios says that his work is a way to spread knowledge and culture among people who might not otherwise be able to access or afford it, citing his own trouble as a collector before he started bootlegging. It’s a statement that calls into question whether or not the truth about piracy is as black-and-white as some might think – and one that calls to mind an argument from a few years ago regarding piracy in countries where films with prohibited subject matter are banned. Food for thought, but at any rate, watch the film below.