Filmmaker RODRIGO REYES IN PERSON for Q&A after the screening!
“A searing, horrifying, at times starkly beautiful documentary ode to the netherworlds surrounding the U.S.-Mexico barrier” –Andrew Barker, VARIETY
“This haunting, beautifully photographed documentary presents the human side of its incendiary topic” –Frank Scheck, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER“An elegiac and cinematically shot poem filled with emotional narration and iconography” –Christine Davila, IndieWIRE
Jury Award for Best Documentary, NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL •Jury Award for Best Documentary, THIS HUMAN WORLD •Jury Award for Best Documentary, SAN DIEGO LATINO FILM FESTIVAL •Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary, ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL
Rodrigo Reyes’ provocative essay film re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante’s purgatory. Leaving politics aside, he takes a fresh look at the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell.By capturing a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes that live on the US/Mexico border, the filmmaker reflects on the flaws of human nature and the powerful absurdities of the modern world. An unusual border film, in the auteur tradition of camera-stylo, Purgatorio ultimately becomes a fable of humanity, an epic and visceral experience with powerful and lingering images.
PURGATORIO was shot in the fall of 2011 over 4 weeks with a crew of three, on a documentary-making road trip in a dilapidated Ford Van, meandering through back roads and highways from Tijuana to Big Bend National Park. It was a trip full of unforgettable anecdotes:The production vehicle became stranded in the desert dunes of Yuma, forcing the crew to hike several miles deep with temperatures over 100 degrees and hoisting all their gear, just so that they could capture the perfect shot of the border fence rising from the sand like a mythical beast.
Nearly a week went by in Ciudad Juárez under a strange streak of luck: no murders were happening. Dumbfounded police officers and journalists swore that crime would soon pick up, as news media reported on the extreme rarity of so many days without violent crime. Lashing the camera and tripod to a 12 foot plastic canoe, filmmakers camped out in the canyons that run alongside the Rio Grande River, dividing Mexico from the US, capturing stark images of epic proportions. These are just a few of the many misadventures that the filmmakers encountered as they made their way along the border. The spirit of this journey has seeped into the film itself, and is one of the reasons why PURGATORIO is so unique.
A film by Rodrigo Reyes, 80 minutes, 2013, Mexico