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Award-winning director Lorenzo Vigas delivers a tense drama about a Mexican teen’s search for his long-lost father and a poignant look at the struggles of migrant workers.
Vigas, who won the Golden Lion at Venice for From Afar (2015), travels to Mexico for his powerful latest outing. Young nonprofessional actor Hatzin Navarette is quietly brilliant as Hatzin, dispatched by his grandmother to Chihuahua in northern Mexico to claim the remains of his estranged father, killed in a mining accident. But on the bus ride home – with his grim cargo, a tiny metal coffin, in his lap – he suddenly sees a stranger in the street with a familiar face. Hatzin is somehow convinced that this man, Mario (a simmering performance by Hernán Mendoza) is his real father. Mario denies it, but Hatzin obsessively forces his way into his life. Soon he is tagging along as Mario recruits workers for the maquiladoras – massive foreign-owned factories near the U.S. border. At first Hatzin finds the father figure he so badly wants. But soon he is confronted by the highly exploitative conditions at the factories, by Mario’s shadiness, and the violence of this world. With fabulous cinematography by Pablo Larraín-collaborator Sergio Armstrong, the vast desert and mountain landscapes of Chihuahua are a stirring backdrop to a thorny, suspenseful story about identity and belonging.
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