Prayers for the Stolen
Director: Tatania Huezo
Stars: Ana Cristina Ordóñez González, Marya Batalla, Olivia Lagunas, Marya Membreño
The moving and visually striking fiction feature debut from documentary filmmaker Tatania Huezo is a disturbing but eerily beautiful portrait of a group of young girls in a mountain community in a small mountain village in Mexico. Eight-year-old Ana (González) lives with her mother Rita (Batalla). In an ominous early scene, Rita is shown digging a grave-sized hiding space for her daughter. Nevertheless, Ana and her two best friends are enjoying their childhood in their bucolic idyll, despite the evident trepidation of their parents. The story jumps forward five years when Anna (Membreño) and her friends have reached adolescence, and the parent’s concerns are illustrated by the appearance of black SUVs driven by members of the local drugs cartel. Huezo fashions a touching study of childhood resilience as she sketches the quotidian life of the girls - the joshing, the camaraderie, the small acts of rebellion and crushes – while serving up frequent reminders of the precariousness of their situation. While the lack of broader political context is a little frustrating, the obliqueness imbues the tale with an almost dark, fairy-tale quality, and the picture throws up some arresting imagery, such as the firefly-like glow of mobile phones as the villagers stand on a mountain slope trying to catch some decent reception.