The US/Mexico Border in Film

Tuesday, August 22 at 1:30pm


Denis Villeneuve (U.S. 2015) 121 min. DCP. With Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro. English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Hollywood took notice of Canadian director Denis Villeneuve after his 2013 Prisoners; two films later was this Mexican drug cartel thriller, and next to be released is Blade Runner 2049 – sure to make the filmmaker a household name (for better or for worse). “Sicario’s every moment unambiguously execrates the war on drugs, depicting clandestine U.S. interventions that only help perpetuate a billion-dollar industry at the expense of tens of thousands of Mexicans caught in the crossfire” (José Teodoro, Film Comment).


Tuesday, August 29 at 1:30pm


Matthew Heineman (U.S. 2015) 100 min. DCP. With Tim Nailer Foley, José Manuel ‘El Doctor’ Mireles, Paco Valencia. English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Matthew Heineman won Sundance’s best director award for his unprecedented nonfiction look at two vigilante groups fighting murderous drug cartels on both sides of the Mexican border. Months after the film’s Sundance premiere, Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty) signed on as Executive Producer; doing so linked the acclaimed action director’s recognition of America’s dysfunctional policies – and the moral uncertainty of its international actions–with Cartel Land’s unsettling of mainstream perceptions of the war on drugs.


Tuesday, September 5 at 1:30pm


Marc Silver (U.S. 2013) 85 min. DCP. With Gael García Bernal. English and Spanish with English subtitles.

When the body of an unidentified immigrant was found in the Arizona Desert, director Marc Silver and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, in an attempt to retrace the man’s path and discover his story, embedded themselves among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. Winner of the Sundance World Cinema documentary award, Who Is Dayani Cristal? witnesses firsthand the human toll of migrants struggling to reach the United States.


Tuesday, September 12 at 1:30pm


Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico/France 2015) 88 min. DCP. With Gael García Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo. English and Spanish with English subtitles.

From the filmmakers behind Gravity (2013), comes a unique, modern vision of terror. What begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain of the U.S.-Mexican border.


Tuesday, September 19 at 1:30pm


Cary Joji Fukunaga (Mexico/U.S. 2009) 96 min. 35MM. With Paulina Gaitan, Marco Antonio Aguirre, Leonardo Alonso. Spanish with English subtitles.

This double winner at Sundance was Cary Joji Fukunaga’s feature debut, and won him immediate acclaim. Weaving the story of a Honduran woman on an odyssey en route to the United States across the Latin American countryside with that of a young gang member from southern Mexico, Sin Nombre was inspired by a 2003 story about 80 immigrants found locked in a truck and abandoned in Texas. Nineteen died.


Tuesday, September 26 at 1:30pm


Gregory Nava (UK/U.S. 1983) 141 min. With David Villalpando, Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, Ernesto Gómez Cruz. Spanish and Mayan with English subtitles.

Brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee persecution at home in Guatemala and journey north, through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. It’s a story that happens every day, but until Gregory Nava’s groundbreaking El Norte (The North), the personal travails of immigrants crossing the border to America had never been shown in the movies with such urgent humanism. A work of social realism imbued with dreamlike imagery, El Norte is a lovingly rendered, heartbreaking story of hope and survival, which critic Roger Ebert called “a Grapes of Wrath for our time.”