THE MILK OF SORROWFausta is ill with a disease contracted from her mother’s breast milk known as “the milk of sorrow”. However, this is not a sickness caused by bacteria or infection: it is a condition that only affects those women in Peru who were abused or raped during the years of terrorist struggle.
Although this horrific period is now history, Fausta is nonetheless a living reminder of this time. Her sickness is called fear – and it has robbed her of her soul. But then, when her mother suddenly dies, Fausta is forced to face her fears. The overpowering nature of these fears, and the desperate lengths to which Fausta will go to assuage them is revealed by her biggest secret: in order to bar loathsome intruders from entering her body she has inserted a potato into her vagina as a kind of antibacterial ‘defence shield’. However, her mother’s death unleashes unexpected events that change Fausta’s life dramatically, as well as the lives of others involved. Fausta now sets out on a journey – a journey that will lead her out of her fear and into freedom.
Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s film addresses a dark era of her country’s history. Established in 2001, the Peruvian ‘commission for truth and reconciliation’ (Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación, CVR) has registered almost 70,000 murder cases, as well as countless rapes, abductions and other human rights abuses in the period from 1980 to the year 2000.