Documentary Films | 2017 | 74 minutes
Stranger Says: A stunning document of Mexico’s ever-growing kidnapping epidemic, illustrated by having the largely youthful captors and survivors telling their tales directly to the camera. This would be unsettling enough, but when you factor in the decision to have absolutely everyone on-screen wear identical monochrome Mexican wrestler masks, things get… complicated. Director Everardo González’s gambit may feel risky at first, but as this brief film progresses, it becomes apparent how the device both frees the participants to further open up and causes the viewers to increasingly focus on the details of their stories. Bleak and upsettingly fascinating. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Says:An unflinching and uncompromising look at the pervasiveness of violence at every level of life in contemporary Mexico, director Everardo Gonzalez (El Paso, Drought), has crafted a searing, hard-to-shake portrait of a nation and its people defined by a culture of unspeakable, almost commonplace terror. Given anonymity by form-fitting, flesh-colored masks, victims and assassins alike openly and intimately recount their involvement in the country’s almost routine acts of violence. One by one, episodes of their daily lives are framed by detailed and shocking stories, and a portrait of a society emerges, in which deep fears and the absence of justice rule. Filmed in an evocative, high-contrast visual palette by cinematographer María Secco and bolstered by a moody score by composer Quincas Moreira, Devil’s Freedom brilliantly captures the realities of living in a traumatic moment in a nation’s history and the very real human cost paid to a deeply broken, inhuman system.
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