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Prayers for the Stolen: A tragic poem to the loss of innocence

Amman Film Festival

SELECT-PRAYERS-FOR-THE-STOLEN
(Photos: Amman International Film Festival and IMDB)
Prayers for the Stolen is a dramatic feature film about adolescence set in a rural town in Mexico.

Directed by Tatiana Huezo, the film, which will be screened on Wednesday at Taj cinema as part of the Amman International Film Festival, invokes the resistance of children and their magical and honest gaze in the face of a violent reality.اضافة اعلان

It is an extraordinary and powerful portrait of daily violence in Mexico from the particular point of view of three girls on the road to adolescence.

In recent years, Mexican cinema has focused on portraying the country’s violence, to raise awareness, generate empathy, and open the eyes of audiences. However, quality aside, we hardly find one that does it without resorting to morbidity.

Prayers for the Stolen stands out not only for fulfilling this complicated task, but for doing it with overflowing sensitivity and authenticity. It is an impeccable transition from documentary to fiction.

The film portrays the increase in violence caused by drug trafficking in a town located in the Sierra Madre mountains through an intimate immersion into the childhood and adolescence of Ana (Ana Cristina Ordóñez González and Mayra Membreño) and her two friends, Paula (Camila Gaal and Alejandra Camacho Olguín) and María (Blanca Itzel Pérez and Giselle Barrera Sánchez).



Huezo shows us the daily life of a community living in fear. We see the protagonist go to school, play in the water, explore abandoned houses, and fight with her mother. But these activities, which in any other film would speak to a common coming-of-age story, take place in the midst of small disturbing occurrences that speak of a larger problem: a neighbor disappearing overnight, Ana is forced to cut her hair short, the military constantly passes through, and women toil away in poppy fields.

The little girl asks questions, but gets no answers from her mother, Rita (Mayra Batalla), who seems to be in a perpetual state of anger, despair, and exhaustion.

With an watchful eye, Huezo portrays all these moments with tremendous patience, letting her narrative unfold slowly as it accumulates terrifying warnings of danger culminating in a crushing climax. In between, we find very human scenes of love and friendship surrounded by tension that intermittently rises to the top in the form of A chilling wave of violence. We do not see this violence directly, but we do hear it and feel its profound effect on the characters.



In its first part, Prayers for the Stolen plays with the innocence of childhood to create cunning dualities. Ana has a game with her mother in which she must keep quiet and carefully identify the sounds of nature, a game which is in fact designed to teach Ana to identify the roar of the cartel’s trucks and give her time to hide.

Likewise, when the girls are taken to have their hair cut, they are told that the cut is due to lice, but the looks of the mothers and the hairdresser herself (Teresa Sánchez) reveal the truth: it is to prevent the girls from attracting attention and being taken by the cartel. In contrast, when the stage of adolescence arrives, the girls’ lack of innocence becomes terrifying for the mothers.

In Prayers for the Stolen, sound is a key tool, serving to build and abate tension and immerse us in Ana’s life. The normality of the mooing of the cows and the singing of the birds creates tranquility, the roar of a fleet of trucks creates unbearable terror, and the silence that follows offers an ephemeral relief that you know will soon disappear.

Prayers for the Stolen portrays a reality whose identity resides in Mexico, but which shows situations with which many country in Latin America could unfortunately identify.


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