Review: La Niña

Ana María Estupiñán in La Niña

La Niña is a series from Columbia, based on true stories about children abducted from their families and forced to fight as soldiers. The main character is the girl Belky. Some of the names have been changed in the telling of her story, but the story is basically accurate.

Belky is played as a teen through university by Ana María Estupiñán. When the story begins Belky is taken away from her home because she volunteers to go in place of her brother, who is sick. She doesn’t escape from the guerillas until she’s 15. Even after she escapes, they continue to hunt her. She knows too much. She must be vigilant at all times.

Her time with the guerillas was full of horrors, which makes her a fierce and forceful character who can stick up for herself and others.

She’s given asylum in a reformatory of some kind. A priest and a woman named Dr. Tatiana  (Constanza Camelo) recognize her intelligence and her already adept knowledge of medicine. They urge her to become a doctor. She goes through high school in a year and a half, passes the university entrance exams, and enters university.

I’m not able to pick out the name of the actor playing the priest on IMDB, even though he was an important character. The material on IMDB about the cast and the various episodes is totally inadequate. It doesn’t even list a director’s name.

Belky doesn’t have a straightforward journey. She falls for Manuel (Sebastian Eslava) early on, and continues to care for him over the years. She’s reunited with her family. Her family, especially her mother (Marcela Benjumea), are unsupportive of her desire to study and go to university. They are in danger because of her and must uproot their own lives to stay safe, a problem that weighs on Belky.

When she reaches the university, other students try to sabotage her education and Manuel is accused of murder. Nothing is easy for Belky, which makes her determination and grit all the more admirable.

La Niña has an amazing 86 episodes, all from 2016! I confess I have not seen them all yet. I’ve watched quite a few and know that the series is engaging throughout and all too real. In the last of the 86 episodes, Belky agrees to let her story be used in a film.

My Spanish is middling good in terms of understanding, but, boy the Columbians speak fast! And with great emotion! Actually, I think there were 100 episodes of La Niña, but they talked so fast they got in done in only 86.

Ana María Estupiñán was wonderful in the lead role. The other actors were good as well. There are locations in the jungle, on farms, in several crowded cities, and in the university.

Unfortunately, this preview doesn’t have English subtitles, but you see Belky as a child protecting her brother, her mother’s laughter when she hears Belky wants to be a doctor, and Manuel in the early stages of their romance. You get a glimpse of the evil Colonel who buried her up to her neck and who searches for her after she escapes.

Watch La Niña on Netflix.

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