Set in El Salvador in the early 1980s, during that country's protracted civil unrest, this Spanish-language film with English subtitles depicts the nightmare of warfare through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. The fact it's a true story, based on the life of screenwriter Oscar Orlando Torres, makes it all the more powerful. One of the horrifying details of this and many other Third World conflicts is that the military and, to a lesser extent, the rebels forcibly recruit children, 12 years and older, into their ranks. Innocent Voices focuses on Chava (Carlos Padilla Lenero), a fun-loving kid who lives in a shantytown with his mother and younger siblings. As fighting in the area increases and Chava's 12th birthday approaches, life becomes even more perilous. Alternately heartrending and buoyant, tragic and sweetly humorous, the film leaves an indelible impression on the heart and mind. It's among the best of the year.