July 29, 2019  (Web Review)

A Bold Peace

(2017) 89 min. DVD: $350. Bullfrog Films (www.bullfrogfilms.com). PPR. SDH captioned. ISBN: 1-941545-80-7.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

While most of Central America has been disfigured by years of civil war, military dictatorships, poverty, and social strife, Costa Rica has stood out as a model of stability and prosperity. According to this documentary from filmmakers Matthew Eddy and Michael Dreiling, Costa Rica’s good fortune can be traced to the angrily contested 1948 presidential election, which devolved into a civil war that left 5,000 dead. José Figueres Ferrer assumed power at the end of the conflict and abolished the national military while also redirecting government financing towards economic development and broadening civil rights to cover women and the non-white population. A Bold Peace portrays today’s Costa Rica in utopian terms, with free healthcare and higher education along with a government committed to achieving a carbon neutral state by 2021. The second half of the last century witnessed several attempts to disrupt the nation, including invasions by exiled Costa Ricans seeking to return to the pre-1948 society (the nation’s police force successfully pushed back the invaders) and efforts by the Reagan administration during the 1980s to allow U.S. military forces to operate in the country in order to aid rebel forces seeking to overthrow neighboring Nicaragua’s government. Costa Rica is often overlooked in the U.S. media, if only because it is remarkably free of sociopolitical conflict, so this well-researched documentary offers a fine introduction. Presented in both the full-length version and a 57-minute abridgement, this is highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)