Two Mexican films recounting tales of violence have been awarded prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.
La Civil and Prayers for the Stolen (Noche de Fuego) were recognized in the Un Certain Regard (from another angle) category where 20 films with unusual styles and non-traditional stories are presented.
Prayers for the Stolen tells the story of three girls in the Guerrero Sierra who live amid a backdrop of gunshots and narcos, while they battle to maintain their innocence.
The 110-minute film was awarded a special mention by the jury and Salvadoran-Mexican director Tatiana Huezo dedicated the prize to Latin American women who are “teaching [their daughters] that they can be free.”
La Civil tells the true story of Míriam Rodríguez, a mother in Tamaulipas who searched for her daughter after she was kidnapped by a cartel. The 140-minute film, directed by Romanian filmmaker Teodora Mihai, received an eight-minute standing ovation after its screening. It was awarded the Courage Prize by the Cannes jury.
Rodríguez was able to collate sufficient evidence to bring her daughter’s murderers to justice, only for them to escape from prison in Ciudad Victoria along with 29 other inmates. She led a collective of families searching for their disappeared children before being murdered herself on Mother’s Day 2017.
Director Mihai dedicated the award to families who are searching for their loved ones. “It seemed like a topic that needed to be given a platform,” she said.
The film stars Mexican actors Arcelia Ramírez, who plays the mother, Cielo, and Álvaro Guerrero who plays the father. Following the screening, the actors spoke of the importance of publicizing the issue of violence in Mexico, and expressed hope that it could effect change.
“It is very important to be here and that this issue is seen around the world, that it is talked about, that it continues to be made visible,” said Ramírez.
“It is a subject that moves me and touches me deeply. There is so much to do … I hope this helps in some small way,” Álvaro said.
According to the National Search Commission almost 90,000 people have disappeared since 2006. Identifying bodies — usually discovered in unmarked clandestine graves.
With reports from El País