Modern Mexico’s Female Filmmakers


Identifying Features, 2020

From the Guardian:

When young Ana is forced to have her hair cut in Tatiana Huezo’s film Prayers for the Stolen, her tears indicate the heartbreak of lost youth. It’s a protective measure taken by her mother who is desperate to prevent Ana from being kidnapped, like so many other young girls in their town have been, by the drug cartels who patrol the surrounding area. Prayers for the Stolen, the first fiction feature from Mexican-Salvadorian documentary-maker Huezo, captures the brutality and fear of growing up in such circumstances.

The facts are grim. An Amnesty International report released in September 2021 found that 10 women and girls are killed every day in Mexico. More broadly, the Congressional Research Service estimates that since 2006, 150,000 people have been killed in Mexico due to organised criminal violence. Propelled by drug wars and battles between cartels for new territory since the 1980s, how can art or culture reflect such a terrifying threat? Now a group of female film-makers, emerging and established, are tackling the violence in their work, creating urgent and disquieting cinema that brings the country’s horrors into the spotlight. Prayers for the Stolen sits alongside 2020’s Identifying Features and the forthcoming Robe of Gems, which recently won the Silver Bear jury prize at the Berlin film festival.

Identifying Features, directed by Fernanda Valadez and co-written by Valadez and Astrid Rondero, has won considerable acclaim. It follows a mother’s search for her son who disappears while attempting to cross the border in to the US. Ignored by the authorities, Magdalena (Mercedes Hernández) sets out on an odyssey of her own to discover what has befallen him.

“The new wave of female film-makers confronting Mexico’s violence against women”, Caitlin Quinlan, The Guardian

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