Kaleidoscope of Mexican Society

in 4th Los Cabos International Film Festival

by Nachum Mochiach

There was no common denominator linking the six films screened in “Mexico primero” category of Los Cabos international film festival’s fourth edition. This makes it a greater challenge to evaluate and analyze the trends and issues that Mexican directors deal with at the present time. What is certain is that these six films represent a kaleidoscope of diverse, interesting aspects in today’s Mexican society.

Let’s start. In Warehoused (Almacenados), the third feature from director Jack Zagha Kababie, a young man, Nin (Hoze Melendez) comes to a empty warehouse to replace Sr. Lino (Jose Carlos Ruiz), who is retiring after almost 30 years being in charge of that warehouse. The young newcomer finds himself in sort of Kafkaesque world. The older guy instructs him to mimic everything he does, to do it all by the book, but then Nin discovers that they are just waiting for trucks to unpack products in the warehouse, something which never happens.  It could be a metaphor for the stagnation of non-orgenized work in the Mexican labour market. It could be also interpreted, in the context of the film, as a criticism of the growing gap between generations in Mexico and the completely different ways they think and do things.

The Chosen Ones (Las Elegidas), the second feature from director David Pablos, portrays a very tragic and painful problem in Mexico. In the film, teenager Ulises (Oscar Torres) is forced to work with his older brother and father. His roll in the “family business” is to seduce very young girls, develop romantic relations with them, and then bring them to his brother and father’s brothel, where they are to be turned, against their will, into prostitutes. Girls who refuse to submit to this transformation are beaten mercilessly and treated very badly, until they are left with no choice but to agree.

Such things happen in real life in remote places, where vulnerable people live. Girls from poor families and broken homes are easy targets for cruel pimps who capture and confine them to isolated locales and compel them to become whores. Pablos’ decision to work mainly with non-actors gives the film a documentary feel and natural authenticity.

The most intriguing, challenging and disturbing movie of the six is I Promise You Anarchy (Te prometo anarquía). Guatemalan-Mexican director Julio Hernandez Codron’s fourth fiction feature focuses on Miguel (Diego Calva) and Johnny (Eduardo Eliseo Martinez), two outsiders in Mexico city, childhood friends who become secret gay lovers as they grow up. They love skateboarding and running an absolutely free-style way of life. To finance this freedom they sell blood on the black market, a practice which ends up getting them in trouble and endangering their lives. This film has a strong anti-social message about trash sub-culture that may or may not exist in the big city. This is a story about heroes whose way of life is obviously alternative to any known norms. In a way, the film, with it’s unique style, rejects normal standards of living and calls for anarchy—at least with regards to ways of thinking.

The three other films in the collection are more like human interest stories, concentrating on relationships afflicted with different romantics problems. Charity (La Caridad), the second feature from director Marcelino Islas Hernandez, examines the changes in the life of a married couple following a terrible and traumatic car accident in which José Luis (Jaime Garza) looses his leg. His relationship with Angelica (veronica Langer), his wife of 30 years, was not good before the accident, but afterwards things get even worse. The nurse (Adriana Paz) who helps José arouses his fantasies.

Semana Santa, the first fiction feature from director Alejandra Márquez, shows the difficulties of a single mother trying to form a new family. Dali (Anjose Aldrete Echevarria), a young widow, goes on an Easter beach vacation with her young son Pepino (Esteban Avila) and her new boyfriend Gil (Tenoch Huerta). They want to get closer together as a possible new family, but the opposite happens.

You’ll Know What To Do With Me (Sabras que hacer conmigo), the first feature from director Katina Medina Mora, deals with young man and woman trying to love each other despite their personal problems. Nicolas suffers from epilepsy and Isabel takes care of her depressed mother, who tries to commit suicide again and again. But there is a great passion between them, and they’ll do whatever it takes in order to overcome their problems and be together as a loving couple.

Edited by José Teodoro