The grave damage done by Venezuela’s dictatorship becomes abundantly clear in the documentary “A La Calle” (or “To the Street”), a granular portrait of struggle and survival. The directors, Nelson G. Navarrete and Maxx Caicedo, center their busy panorama on protests in response to a national crisis: the policies of President Nicolás Maduro, which have left citizens wanting for food, medical supplies and a stable currency.
Protests have dogged Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez upon his death in 2013 and kept power after a disputed 2018 election. Navarrete and Caicedo interview an assortment of figures facing the effects of Maduro’s government: an opposition leader, an activist who was tortured, a sanitation worker, a medic. Images of crowds massing in the streets, sometimes getting gassed, provide a literal chorus of disapproval. The film’s onslaught of footage is almost breathless in its density.
The movie as a whole is not the most elegant assemblage of video, especially in its rapid transitions, and some pruning could help. The filmmakers smartly include a government ministry figure and supporters of Maduro, showing the scope of political forces at work. A provocative sequence compares Maduro’s authoritarian consolidation of power to efforts by leaders like Putin and Trump.
Though Maduro has gone so far as to block humanitarian aid, the film attempts to strike an upbeat note by showing the rise of Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly leader who declared himself acting president in 2019. A glance at the news reveals that the struggle continues, but “A La Calle” provides a vital snapshot.
A La Calle
Not rated. In Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. Watch on HBO Max.