Desaparecidos: New Mexican Documentary
Leaving your house knowing that you might never come back is an ordinary feeling amongst people living in Mexico. It doesn’t matter who you are, or who you’re not, no one is immune to the day-to-day dangers. But people don’t really think about it; it has become part of life. In the past decade, levels of violence have escalated to horrifying numbers. Gradually, drug cartels merged with the government, the police, the army, the media…and suddenly Mexicans were left with a country where political campaigns are funded by the cartels, the army and the police follow orders of anyone above them, and the mainstream media covers up all the grimy work done by the authorities, manicuring stories and presenting them as if everything was normal. In a country where kidnapping, rapes and human trafficking are a common occurrence, mass graves are found day and night, and people disappear by the hour, while the current president invites Donald Trump for a visit, citizens have found a way to normalize the chaos in order to get on with their lives. They’ve gotten used to the perpetual presence of the army and armed police in public spaces, the sound of gunshots as a background noise, the constant search for missing people…the country is going through an invisible war that no one recognises, and therefore it keeps crawling into every corner of every street, going through every crack of every building and flowing through the veins of every individual whose shouts for justice are persistently muted by the establishment.
This year, Document presents a strand of New Mexican Documentary where three women filmmakers depict poetic stories of individuals that expose the complexities of the current state of affairs in Mexico. Betzabé García’s Kings of Nowhere conveys the recurrent fear that people have of invisible forces appearing out of nowhere to destroy lives and communities. Tempestad, directed by Tatiana Huezo, interweaves the stories of two women that have been victims of Mexico’s invisible war: Adela, one of the many mothers looking for her disappeared daughter, and Miriam, one of the countless innocent people that are incarcerated to pay for the crimes of others. An intimate portrait of prostitutes is captured by Maya Goded in Plaza de la Soledad, where she paints a picture with a new light featuring the women’s beauty and dignity, and the strength of an underground community that has been around since the Aztecs.
The courage of filmmakers like Betzabé García, Tatiana Huezo and Maya Goded are a contribution towards triggering change in Mexico; it is through these efforts and the efforts of many others that we are able to make this invisible war visible to the world by bringing these stories to international audiences and generating global awareness of Mexico’s status quo.