Los débiles Premieres at the 68th BerlinaleBy: Chloë Roddick
The Mexican film Los débiles, shot in Sinaloa by first time directors Raúl Rico (Mexico) and Eduardo Giralt Brun (Venezuela), premiered at the 68th Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival), as part of the Forum section. Both directors were in attendance to present the film, which they described as “pretty weird” and “like a rabid dog.”
The film is a blackly comic look at the culture of violence in Sinaloa—and wider Mexico—which follows the stoic Victor, played by José Luis Lizárraga, a man driven to extreme lengths in his search for vengeance against a man who killed his two dogs. The film is situated in a distorted reality that underplays physical violence and focuses on what director Eduardo Giralt Brun described as ¨the banality of evil,” as well as on a series of strange and cleverly drawn secondary characters, all of whom were found during a “field casting” in Rico’s native Sinaloa. The directors explained that Lizárraga, the film’s protagonist, was “an acquaintance of Raúl’s family, he lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere and he seemed like people from another era,” going on to add that “we were looking for characters with their own history.”
According to the Berlinale website, Los débiles “deliver a contemporary spin on a the classic tale of crime and punishment, a virtuoso accomplishment that achieves the seemingly impossible: a revenge film in which the need for vengeance ultimately fades into the background. With calm and composed camera work and marvellously droll humour, they have created a road movie extraordinarily rich in atmosphere, featuring striking locales in a fascinating landscape that manages to be two things at once: heaven and hell.”
More Mexicans at the Berlinale
It was a strong day for Mexican talent in the Berlinale. Elsewhere, Spanish documentary co-production The Silence of Others, directed by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar premiered, featuring original music by Mexican composer Leonardo Heiblum (Batallas íntimas, Allende mi abuelo Allende, Plaza de la Soledad, La jaula de oro). The film is a powerful look at the consequences of the Amnesty Law, which was passed by the Spanish parliament in 1977 after the fall of Franco’s regime. It follows relatives of victims, human rights activists and lawyers as they try to challenge this injustice.
The Mexican short film Playa, directed by Francisco Borrajo and part of the Official Selection at the FICM in 2017, screened as part of a short film program in the section Generation 14 Plus, and the German/Mexican co-production The Best Thing You Can Do with Your Life, featuring photography by Mexican DoP Bruno Santamaria Razo, who directed the 2016 Mexican documentary Margarita.