Spotlight: Windows Into Mexico's Most Urgent Problems

By David Schonauer   Friday January 11, 2019

A man who loves his admittedly dirty job.

A city coming together after a natural disaster.

A teacher struggling to shape the morals of the next generation.

These are the subjects of a slate of short documentaries recently featured at The New York Times, which notes that the films, by some of Mexico’s outstanding filmmakers, “offer windows into Mexico’s most urgent problems and also introduce the people committed to solving them.”

“This series, of course, is not an attempt to portray Mexico comprehensively — that would be impossible,” notes The Times. “Instead, through these remarkable short films, we hope to challenge our audience to consider the country in new ways, guided by the artists who call it home.”

The films look at Mexico City following a major earthquake, what it’s like to grow up as the child of an gangster, how indigenous people fare in the country’s criminal justice system, and more.

1. Ruptured City

“[O]n the heels of last year’s quake, the natural response of the vast majority of people was to go out into the street to help. The support was so overwhelming that the worst-hit areas were brimming with help. This documentary captures the essence of what happened when this new wound struck our city, the day in which the earth reminded us anew of the fragility of our foundations” — directors Santiago Arau Pontones and Diego Rabasa

2. Children of the Narco Zone 


“This short film speaks to how hard it is to teach in a violent atmosphere. Teachers have to adapt to union conditions, educational reforms, low wages, distances and isolation, and the great challenge in instilling in their students a moral code, in communities where this concept is fractured” — director Everardo González

3. A Prisoner in the Family


“The day to day lives of many Mexicans are directly tied to their socioeconomic status, and unfortunately our protagonists have been dealt a bitter hand. This documentary is a window into the pain, hurt and circumstances that led a mother to lock her son in a room in the backyard of the family’s house” — director Indra Villaseñor Amador

4. The Diver

"Mexico is undergoing multiple crises: humanitarian, corruption, garbage. This film shows us how through his work, a human being is capable of finding beauty, pleasure and the essence of his humanity inside the detritus” — director Esteban Arrangoiz

5. Justice in Translation

“How can you guarantee people’s access to justice when basic means for understanding are lacking?” — director Sergio Blanco

6. Unsilenced

“This film tells the story of Atilano Román Tirado, an activist and community radio host of ‘Así es mi tierra.’ Through his story we learn who he was and the risks he accepted when leading the Picachos Dam movement” — director Betzabé García


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