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Föreningen Film i Malmö presents
In a corrupt and broken Mexican society, Heli sees an innocent family bring violent retribution on themselves when they unwittingly cross a brutal drug cartel.
CAUTION! Brutality discussed below.
Winner of the Best Director in 2013’s Cannes Film Festival, director/writer Amat Escalante’s film starts with one of the most arresting opening scenes ever. On the metal floor in the back of a pick-up as it bumps along a dusty road, a boot crushes a bloodied head. It’s a very long take and eventually the camera pulls back to show there are two bodies, both bloodstained, one half-naked – maybe unconscious, maybe dead. When it eventually stops, one body is taken out by a group of men in uniform and hanged, dangled from a pedestrian bridge over a road.
It’s Escalante’s third movie after Sangre and Los Bastardos, set in Guanajuato where he grew up, a region where drug violence is notoriously rife. He says people there live in fear, and killings, decapitations and hangings are shown without restraint in the media. All the parts are played by non-professional actors, except for Ramon Alvarez, and Escalante gets powerful performances from them.
Of the resonant opening scene, Escalente says, “I always intended to start the film with this image: a man hanging above a bridge. This image is very common in Mexico. You see that sort of thing all the time in newspapers. I wanted to show it outside of its context, and then go back along the narrative thread to reveal the reality it encloses. Behind each image like that, there is a human tragedy, innocent victims of indiscriminate violence. In short, a story that has to be told, otherwise people will always reassure themselves by thinking that the man hanging above that bridge deserved it.”
(written excerpt by ALEXA DALBY )