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Sanctorum, by Joshua Gil, takes us from Mixe magic to drug trafficking hell

By: Gustavo R. Gallardo

The film Sanctorum (2019) was presented at the 17th Morelia International Film Festival as part of the Mexican Feature Films Selection, and was attended by actresses Nereida Vásquez and Virgen Vásquez, actor Erwin Pérez, as well as director Joshua Gil, and producers Marion d’Ornano and Carlos Sosa.

The film, which was filmed in the mountains of Oaxaca and is spoken in Mixe and Spanish, closed this years’ Critics’ Week in Venice. It narrates how in a town plagued by drug trafficking violence, a boy has lost his mother. His grandmother told him that she could return from death if he asks for a miracle.

Erwin Pérez, Nereida Vásquez, Virgen Vásquez

Erwin Pérez, Nereida Vásquez, Virgen Vásquez

“The big hypothesis of the project has to do with trying to talk to the Mexican capo, with criminalization. The (rural) population has to find a way to survive with a product other than corn or coffee because they no longer pay as they should. It is possible that the end of the world is better than what we are living,” said Joshua Gil.

Due to the issue they address, the filmmaker explained that they had to find a safe place to film and, although there was no persecution (from the organized crime), some things had to be negotiated: “Although the people with whom we filmed have this trade, they were friendly; they are Mexicans. We only dealt with organized families, which gave the film an original spirit, people who survive (does not get rich) from planting marijuana and poppy.”

For her part, actress Nereida Vásquez, who filmed with her mother Virgen Vásquez and her nephew Erwin Pérez, said that filming “was an experience to demonstrate that there is also another art of expressing what we feel. It was very beautiful and fantastic at the same time.”

Carlos Sosa

Carlos Sosa