It has already been said: it is irresponsible to portray drug trafficking in a heroic way. And so, heroically, he has been drawn in all kinds of series and films, both national and foreign. The Mexican mobster has ended up becoming a kind of “growth model” that is displayed on the screens as intelligent and, often, even vigilante. But, on the other side of the spectrum, there is another reality that ends up being equally untimely: the morbid portrait of someone who seeks notoriety by “visualizing” misery. These are like someone watching a traffic accident and instead of helping, they take out their cell phone to record it.
In the middle between these extremes there is room for art; an art that, in effect, has a place and a space, a voice that materializes in characters and stories capable of generating empathy. They are a legitimate call for the public to stand in solidarity with the victims in a country ruined by violence. Because, no one doubts it, the war that Mexico is experiencing has to be told, but not to thrive or to exalt but, rather, to avert. That is why it was worth getting up on July 12 and applauding. The press and the public cheered the actress for eight minutes Arcelia Ramirez for your participation in Civil of Teodora Mihai.
On Civil At last something materialized that had not found its place in the many filmic attempts to apprehend the national conflict. Arcelia Ramírez made her way into acting since she began to gain fame in Benjamin’s wife, from Carlos Carrera placeholder image, in 1991. It is a long journey from then until these eight minutes that were offered to him for having given voice to Miriam Rodríguez Martínez, the activist who, determined to find her daughter’s whereabouts, finally found a place with her, shot, on May 10, 2017. But what is the difference between Ramírez’s interpretation and that of so many other actors in movies who have jumped on the train of fashion or morbid? The answer lies in mimesis, that ability to portray a character as Cielo; it is in the work of the creative team that got a portrait and not a cartoon; the answer is, in short, in the cinema. And it is that, to produce a work like CivilNot even the talent of Arcelia Ramírez is enough. You need the art of the Romanian-born director Teodora Mihai, of her screenwriter Habacuc Antonio de Rosario and the photographer Marius panduru. Production by the Dardenne brothers with the participation of the famous Michel Franco. As is known, the Dardennes are known in Cannes for their interest in small-looking characters; human beings oppressed by circumstances that far exceed their daily lives. The name of the Dardenne on the screen should be enough to confirm that this story did not make it to the cinema for the purpose of growth, since Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne They have a genuine commitment to the unprotected: the immigrants, the unemployed, the crazy. All those who could become a statistic are for this creative team human beings who, like Heaven in CivilThey fight not only against the most obvious, that is, injustice, but also against the machismo of a husband who does not know how to help but knows how to blame. And since she appears on the screen, Arcelia Ramírez’s strength has been increasing. Until the climax it undoubtedly deserves eight minutes of applause.
When the presentation of the film Night of Fire of Tatiana Huezo placeholder image, the audience also rose to cheer the creative team. What do they have in common Fire night Y Civil? Why, despite the horror, do they produce so much enthusiasm? A woman and a girl dig a hole. Is it a grave? Tatiana Huezo masters the art of ambivalence so well that one does not get to know it well even when the script, later on, tells us explicitly. But beware, ambivalence is not the same as ambiguity. The first lends itself to symbolism, the second to caricature. And it has already been said: the only thing this country does not need is another caricature of the drug trafficker, of prostituted women, of murdered students.
Tatiana Huezo knows how to evade the previously announced cliché and involves us with this woman and this girl who perhaps dig her grave. Ana is a girl who was born among poppies and drug traffickers. It could be any little girl, who plays with Paula and María, her friends, imagining a future in the idyllic landscape of these mountains. Based on the novel by Jennifer clement, Ladydi (published in 2014), Tatiana Huezo has achieved a fabulous adaptation of this story that sought to contrast a fairy tale with the reality of a town hit by drugs; a town where Ana wants to survive. And for this she has to renounce her femininity.
In previous works the director has explored violence. In 2011 he filmed The smallest place, on the civil war in El Salvador. In 2014 he documented, in The Tempest, the perverse of human trafficking, and in this 2021 tells the story of Ladydi, the “anti-princess” who invented Jennifer Clement. But this romantic story ends up becoming more real on the screen. It has gained symbolic strength. As in many old fables, to become who she is, Ana has to hide. That is why the sequence in which the girl is forced to look like a boy is so important. But the mob is not so easily fooled, is it? It is necessary to know that the interest of the drug traffickers in these girls has a double purpose. To the pedophile perversion it is necessary to add the desire to terrorize the population. Because, in effect, a terrified population is easier to manipulate. It is here where we begin to glimpse the value of two films that, providentially, are presented the same year in the same forum: the narrative has the power to exorcise, to conjure up the monsters that live beyond, in the mountains, among poppies. And we all, like Ana, know who they are. But childhood continues, because everyday life does not stop. The sequence in which a woman and a girl dig a hole serves as a hinge to reunite us with Ana after puberty has passed. The anti-princess has been transformed into a woman who, increasingly far from caricature, is capable of making her own decisions. And he seeks to get ahead in a town where justice was buried. Then, from the mountains that surround his hamlet, the real drama descends little by little. And the director tells it so well that she wanted to find an explanation for her talent in the fact that before launching into fiction she was a documentary filmmaker. But not. Tatiana Huezo knows how to tell a film because, whether to make fiction or to make documentaries, it is clear that she was born to narrate. That is why he creates such endearing characters. As in the case of Teodora Mihai, Tatiana Huezo’s art can be summed up in this word: mimesis, the ability to imitate nature which, in the case of cinema, is the emotional nature of these heroines who suffer the violence of a country sick of drug trafficking cancer. It is thanks to this mimesis that we can know these characters so well that we are even grateful that they allow us to love them. This is a cinema of feelings, not sentimentality; it is fiction that offers the challenge of imagining ourselves as Tatiana Huezo’s girl or as Teodora Mihai’s social fighter. Both directors have achieved characters at the height of the great Italian cinema of the postwar period. They have given Mexican cinema characters worthy of the tradition of Vittorio De Sica or Roberto Rossellini. So the applause.
In many ways, the narrative scheme of Civil It corresponds to that of other great kidnapping movies. And it must be said because the film never ceases to keep us on the edge of the seat. Similarly, Fire night It has an air that transcends nostalgia and places us in something that seems more like a horror story. And it is, but the horror that comes from beyond Ana’s town seems like something out of a medieval tale. That is also why it keeps us interested. It gives us our place as spectators, that is, it keeps us expectant. Herein lies what unites these two films. They not only deal with similar topics; in addition, they are great cinema for the interest they produce. And yes, it is important that both have been produced by female voices and that they give voice to female characters in a country that has taken such special cruelty towards women.
The art of Huezo and Mihai has something that hypnotizes: their dialogues, the camera movements, their way of directing actors. As in an ancient tale, one is grateful for the narrative because the horror is compensated by beauty, with the art of the cinema, which is precisely what allows us to identify our lives with those of these troubled heroines. And there is also, in both, the wisdom of someone who parallels this war with the Greek tragedy. Because, indeed, what these artists do is as important as the respect Antígona offered for her dead ancestors.
Tatiana Huezo and Teodora Mihai have managed to overcome both the stupid praise of the drug trafficker and the miserable vision of violence. Because neither vision is good for anyone, but much less for the victims. Thanks to these directors, history seems, at last, to have caught up with art. First of all, because both have worked hard to achieve the necessary mimesis so that we can identify ourselves. But, in addition, they have raised these projects with patience and directed with art; meditating on the staging, the camera movement, the voice of his actresses. Thanks to this they transcend the worst of horrors, senseless death. Indeed, Tatiana Huezo and Teodora Mihai have found meaning where, in real life, only chaos reigned.