From northern to southern Mexico, there are many victims of the injustice brought on by the country’s federal police – those whose purpose is to protect, not harm. They use intimidation to invoke fear and gain control. Tatiana Huezo’s “Tempestad” addresses the personal accounts of two women, Miriam and Adela, who were mistreated by the police through deliberate false accusations and involvement with a kidnapping scheme. These women hope to bring light to the terror on the innocent happening in their home country.
Miriam is never shown on screen, leaving only the tremor in her voice to haunt us. This cinematic choice highlights how she was dehumanized by the system. Another explanation for never seeing Miriam’s face is that she doesn’t want the police to go after her for telling her story to Huezo. Much of the backdrop of Miriam’s voiceover is a 1,200 mile, grueling bus ride in midst of a terrible storm, similar to the bus ride Miriam had taken to and from prison.
Miriam was falsely accused of taking part in a human trafficking ring– even after police admitted she was not responsible. Regardless, police forced her to take the blame so the officers could say that they had made an impact in stopping organized crime in the country. Miriam was sent to a self-governing prison, an unusually common system used in Mexico. These prisons are often controlled by gangs. In Miriam’s case, she was tortured and forced to have her family send a $5,000 entering fee and another $500-a-month in order to keep her alive. The disgusting part is the Mexican police were aware of what went on inside these prisons.
Adela, the second woman we are introduced to, is a compassionate mother of three who refuses to come to terms with the permanent abduction of her daughter even 10 years after the occurrence. Her then 20-year-old daughter, Monica, was kidnapped by a fellow student and son of a police officer. The son and father then sold Monica to Mexican gangs, presumably as a prostitute. After Adela frantically reached out for help, the gang who had taken Monica contacted her mother and threatened to kill Monica if she searched any longer.
Footage, along with the women’s voice overs, encompass most of “Tempestad.” Huezo creates a political piece married with artistically depressing imagery. We see Adela going through her daily routine as as a circus performer. Sandwiched between these are scenes of Monica’s vigil and emotional moments of the rest of the family reflecting on their memories with Monica. Adela is able to love her job, care for her young children, and contribute her story to inform of the injustices happening in Mexico, as she endures the heartbreaking loss of her daughter. She’s hopeful that Monica will return home one day. Miriam’s outlook on post-prison life isn’t as optimistic due to the direct trauma and abuse she survived. Not much is stated about what Miriam is doing once she’s home from prison, but her voice suggests that she’s struggling and scarred.
With police brutality occurring in the United States, there are some American parallels to “Tempestad.” Of course, not to the extremity of the cases in Mexico, which tend to involve drug cartels and government corruption. “Tempestad” gathers sympathy from the audience for the oppression happening in Mexico, a country that needs American comradery and support.
The Spanish Film Festival, hosted by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages will continue throughout October, screening a total of five titles in Fromm’s Maraschi Room at 6:30pm on the following dates:
Thursday October 12
Wednesday, October 18
Thursday, October 26
Featured Photo: Adela searches for her lost daughter in Tatiana Huezo’s “La Tempestad.” CINEPHIL.