The Mexican documentary feature films The Guardian of Memory / El guardián de la memoria by Marcela Arteaga and When I Shut My Eyes / Cuando cierro mis ojos by Sergio Blanco and Michelle Ibaven will premiere as part of the 26th edition of Hot Docs—North America’s largest documentary film festival—running April 25 - May 5 in Toronto, Canada.
Arteaga’s The Guardian of Memory will have its world premiere as the only Latin American production in the International Spectrum competition. Shot in the the Juarez Valley, a region in northern Mexico once known for cotton production, is now nothing more than burned down houses, empty towns, and memories. Carlos Spector, an immigration lawyer born in El Paso, TX, fights to obtain political asylum for Mexicans fleeing from violence. The film tells the story of Mexican men, women, and children seeking a respite from their tragedies by heading to their neighboring country, the U.S. It is also a story about the kindness and hope that still exists in people who have gone through hell, and about Carlos Spector’s tireless efforts to keep memory alive.
Blanco and Ibaven’s When I Shut My Eyes follows Adela and Marcelino who share an isolation that is common among many native speakers of an indigenous language in Mexico. Through dreams and memories that they have of their land and their people in prison, their two voices express the disorientation and need to fight against exclusion through telling their story.
A third Mexican film, Midnight Family directed by American filmmaker Luke Lorentzen—about a family attempting to make a meager living operating a private ambulance in Mexico City —will have its Canadian premiere in the World Showcase section of the film festival.