Dir/Writer: Everardo Gonzalez. Mexico, 2017, 74′
Mexico has become synonomous with terror when it comes to the drug trade. In dramas such as Heli and Sicario the horror and casual violence of modern life emerges through stories of ordinary people caught up in a criminal underworld, as here in Devil’s Freedom (La Libertad del diablo), a rather dry but important documentary that gives testament to the endemic corruption caused largely though drug wars, but also in criminality of all kinds, where life is cheapened by man’s desire to fight for control of land and filthy lucre.
The characters interviewed in El Paso Director Everardo Gonzalez’ often harrowing film are often fully masked as he calmly interviews them off camera, allowimg them full amd frank expression of their grief and suffering. Some of them break down as they tell of the torture, loss of life and trauma they have endured in the war against drugs which has claimed over 100,000 lives in the past five years. This is a number that beggars belief, but the authorities are often as corrupt as the public involved.
The gruelling constant mask to camera confessions are often punctuated with sorties into indiscrimate landscapes picturing the grim light of dawn or masked gunman travelling in trucks on the desert roads, or abandoned and dilapidated sights where sinister events have seemingly taken place. Either way, this makes for gruelling viewing.
Gonzalez never resorts to sensationalism, maintaining his distance with the occasional question that begs for description rather than sympathy. Neither does he attempt to contextualise events or seek explanation for Mexico’s malaise. Sufferers and perpetrators alike express fear, regret and shame. There seems little hope for redemption or hope in film’s incediary finale. MT
SCREENING DURING BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017