2019, Movies

El guardián de la memoria [The Guardian of Memory] (2019, Marcela Arteaga)

This is a gorgeous film – seriously it’s beautiful – about an awful subject, Mexicans fleeing Mexico due to persecution from cartels. It’s a little like Taming the Garden in terms of how pretty it is, though the shots are not as impressive as that documentary.

The film is a juxtaposition of Mexicans living in Texas – who have applied for political asylum in the US – over gorgeous photography of Texas and Chihuahua, plus a discussion of the issues by Carlos Spector, an American-Mexican lawyer who is trying to convince immigration judges that they should accept the claims of political asylum.

The film is heartbreaking, as we learn the stories of why these various people have fled to Texas. They’ve lost family members and the local and sometimes federal Mexican authorities have failed to help.

The film raises questions about the relationship between Mexican state and federal authorities and organized crime, and the extent to which the US accidentally funds the cartels by sending funds to the federal government.

And the whole thing is just gorgeous to look at, with some really great wide-angle shots of Texas and Chihuahua. That makes it arguably more affecting as the spectacular photography makes the words sting more. It’s a lot easier to empathize with the people talking about exile when you can see how pretty the land is.

I don’t know enough about the situation to know how accurate Spector’s view of the situation is. But my inclination is always to side with the less powerful so I’m inclined to take him at his word.

It’s a very pretty film about a very unfortunate situation. It’s very much on one side of the issue but given that it’s the human side of the issues I’m less worried about bias. (It’s easy to be convinced by a film this pretty.)


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