Writing and directing her first fiction feature, writer-director Tatiana Huezo, whose nonfiction films have documented postwar trauma in El Salvador (the exceptional The Tiniest Place) and the horrors of human trafficking in Mexico (Tempestad), brings a documentary verisimilitude to her debut feature film.
Even though the location (with exceptional design contributions from Oscar Tello and rsula Schneider Nez) is consistently impressive, the drama’s narrative form and pace are not always as secure. In terms of portraying a beleaguered town trying to make the best of its situation, the film is meticulously observed, with its character assessments being both clear and fascinating.
In particular, this is true of the drama of coming-of-age at its heart, which contains moments of breathtaking intensity given by the six first-time performers who portray a trio of friends who are two decades apart in age. Halfway through the film, Huezo shifts the focus from the girls’ youth to their adolescence, when they’re old enough to grasp the dangers of human trafficking and the reason they keep their hair short, like boys, to avoid being targeted.
Three teenage ladies have reached the age of majority in a small village in Guerrero, which is dominated by the drug trade and human trafficking, according to local authorities.
Rita should be played by Mayra Batalla.
Paula is played by Alejandra Camacho (teen).
Ana is played by Marya Membreo (teen).
Ana Cristina Ordóez González in the role of Ana (child).
Leonardo is played by Memo Villegas.
Norma Luz is played by Pablo.Mara is played by Giselle Barrera Sánchez (teen).
Blanca Itzel Pérez takes on the role of Mara (child).
Margarito is played by Julián Guzmán Girón (teen).
David Illescas takes on the role of the instructor.
Concha is played by Eileen Yaez.
Paula is played by Camila Gaal (child).
Zulma is played by Olivia Lagunas.
Helena is played by Teresa Sanchez, and Joel is played by Andrés Chavero Medina.
Artemia is played by Gabriela Nez.
Margarito is played by José Estrada (child).
The Doctor is played by Daniela Arroio.
‘Un Certain Regard’ has been selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, which will take place in June of the following year. When it premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, it got a Special Mention.
It is scheduled to be released in Mexican theatres on September 16, 2021, according to the official website of the production. During the 94th Academy Awards, it was announced that it would be Mexico’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category. The announcement was made in October 2021. On November 17, 2021, it will be made accessible for viewing on the Netflix platform.
Credits Are Given in Their Entirety.
Cannes Film Festival is the location (Un Certain Regard)
Among the production businesses are: Pimienta Films, Match Factory Productions, Desvia, Bord Cadre Films, Cactus Film & Video, Jaque Films & Video, and Louverture Films Ana Cristina Ordóez González, Marya Membreo, Mayra Batalla, Blanca Itzel Pérez, Camila Gaal, Giselle Barrera Sánchez, Alejandra Camacho, Julián Guzmán Girón, José Estrada, Norma Pablo, Eileen Yáez, Memo Villegas are among the cast members.
Tatiana Huezo is a director and screenwriter.
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Jennifer Clement’s novel Prayers for the Stolen was the inspiration for this film.
Nicolás Celis and Jim Stark are the producers.
Maya Scherr-Wilson serves as executive producer.
Dariela Ludlow was in charge of the photography.
Oscar Tello is the production designer.
Rsula Schneider Nez is the costume designer for this production.
Miguel Schverdfinger is the editor.
Jacobo Lieberman and Leonardo Heiblum composed the music.
Graciela Miguel Villanueva and Natalia Beristain were cast in the film.
Fátima Toledo is the acting coach.
Lena Esquenazi is the sound designer for this piece.
Roberto Ortiz was in charge of the special makeup.
The Match Factory is in charge of international sales.
It is with breathtaking compassion and intensity that Ordóez González portrays Ana’s first haircut at the age of eight (a real-life onscreen event for Ordóez González). (Waiting for the little girl to start preparing eggs is no less captivating.) Ana’s friend Paula (Camila Gaal), who is on the verge of succumbing to the scissors herself, holds her hand while she sobs, wide-eyed and deafeningly silent.
Maria (Blanca Itzel Pérez), their other bestie, is exempt from the scissors’ blades. Given that a girl with harelip is permitted to keep her hair, Rita’s vehement assertion that the shearing is a preventative step against lice is called into question. Huezo is patiently waiting for the truth to unveil itself. This is a world where girls are kidnapped from their homes on a regular basis. It’s preferable not to dress in a stereotypically feminine manner.
Rita’s lies, which she tells to reassure her daughter, become increasingly strained. Ana’s voice is the voice of conscience, and Rita’s is the voice of survival as they watch as heinous deeds are carried out around them and entire families disappear. Ana doesn’t comprehend the adults’ vow of silence when her teacher, a newcomer to the neighbourhood, inquires about what happened after seeing the abandoned homes of the missing, their dinner tables still set for the evening meal.
Writing and directing are episodic, and the uneven impact of the episodes at times gives the film a sense of being on the verge of being lost. However, the fact that the centre of each scene is not always underlined gives the impression that it is closer to actual life than to a formulaic dramatic framework.
Prayers for the Stolen, which was shot over a long period of time – nine months — in a remote mountain hamlet in the state of Querétaro in north-central Mexico, develops a powerful sense of location that is more than matched by the ferociously brilliant performances of its youthful cast members.
A rigorous casting process and three months of performance preparation under the direction of acting coach Fátima Toledo preceded the production of the film.
Although the original Spanish title, Noche de Fuego (Fire Night), is less descriptive and particular than the English one, it nonetheless captures the horrific way in which savagery is entwined with everyday life. Huezo demonstrates how alone the townspeople feel in their predicament, and how vulnerable they are due to their geographical seclusion.
When the cartel’s cars arrive on the horizon, the entire village feels a chill run through it. Soldiers cower as well in the face of the smugglers’ explosives.
At the same time, Huezo is cognizant of the villagers’ creativity and endurance, both as individuals and as a collective group. It begins with Rita and Ana digging a hole in their yard, not for a grave, but for a place to stay alive, a hiding spot in case the men arrive at their door.
When Rita is training her daughter, she emphasises the importance of listening with hyperalertness and distinguishing friendly sounds from those that indicate danger. As part of their training, Ana and her companions engage in mind-reading competitions with one another.
Their basic experiments in telepathy are more than just games for them; they’re tying themselves to one another with creativity, love, and a desire to go on new adventures together. And they’re attempting to find a true language in the face of a world filled with silences and lies.