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Tempestad review – twin stories of broken Mexican lives, exquisitely told

Tatiana Huezo’s Tempest (Tempestad).
Aftermath … Tatiana Huezo’s Tempest (Tempestad).

Tatiana Huezo’s exquisite documentary speaks painful truths but is worth every minute. It pares everything back to long-held shots that unfold like a cinematic slideshow, accompanied almost entirely by voiceover tracks from two Mexican women whose stories mirror each other. Miriam was working at Cancún airport when she was arrested on spurious charges of human trafficking and sent to a prison run by a criminal cartel where she was tortured while her family were forced to pay for her “upkeep”. Then, just as suddenly as she was arrested, she was discharged.

As she describes her ordeal of many years, heard but not seen, shots of random people travelling on buses, landscapes reeling by and other kinds of photogenic material scroll across the screen, as illustrating her lonely homeward journey. Meanwhile, Adela, a professional clown from a long line of circus folk, who is shown on camera, describes how her daughter Monica, a university student, was kidnapped 10 years ago and has never been found. Adela still looks for her child everywhere, even though both the police and criminal elements (there’s barely any difference between the two) threaten her and her family if she doesn’t stop her search. Luminous cinematography and a plangent but sparingly used score buttress the powerfully composed storytelling.

Watch the trailer for Tempest (Tempestad)
This article titled "Tempestad review – twin stories of broken Mexican lives, exquisitely told" was written by Leslie Felperin, for The Guardian on Thursday 11 January 2018 07.00am


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