Dawn to Despair
Dawn to Despair is a feature-length hybrid documentary that tells the story of a Costa Rican working-class family over multiple generations. Based on the experiences of a historical family in Alajuela, Costa Rica, the film follows the high-tension wire linking family life to political commitment during the polarizing decades of the Cold War in Central America. Moreover, situations, experiences, and perspectives of others interviewed for the documentary will inform Dawn to Despair, transforming the narrative from the anecdotal to a social portrait.
Fausto, the patriarch of the family, is the founder of the Bakery Workers’ union in Alajuela and a founding member of the Costa Rican Communist Party. After he deserts his family in 1942, his young sons are forced to find work. One son, at age 15, joins the rebellion against the Communist-backed reformist government. Another, age 18, supports the unions and the government in the civil war. By telling these stories, Dawn to Despair will paint a lively, multi-hued picture of 20th century Central American social history. As new generations struggle for social justice, this family saga of personal conflict and political commitment will reverberate with contemporary relevance.
Jeffrey L. Gould is Distinguished Professor of History at IU Bloomington. His work deals with Central American social movements, ethnic conflicts, and political violence. His publications include Solidarity Under Siege: The Salvadoran Labor Movement, 1970-1990 and To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1920-32, which he co-authored with Aldo Lauria. He has also co-directed and co-produced three documentary films about El Salvador.