Two women, who live at opposite ends of Mexico, have both had their lives irreparably damaged by human trafficking. In the north of the country, a young mother is falsely accused of being part of a people smuggling ring and is sent to a hell-on-earth style of prison where her safety is only assured because her family manages to raise $500 in protection money each and every week. An older mother is also brought into the narrative of this sumptuously shot documentary. Once a young mother too, her daughter disappeared forever, most likely sold into sex slavery. She bravely tells her story to the unflinching eye of director Tatiana Huezo’s camera, despite the fact that she has received death threats if she doesn’t let it go. How could a mother simply let it go, even after a decade has gone by?
The young mother does not appear on camera, and the horrors she witnessed are told (via voiceover) without hesitation and fear. As she speaks, the film displays a succession of seemingly meaningless shots of Mexican people going about their day. Perhaps there’s a beauty in the everyday that the young mother missed out on in her time inside.
It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by the older mother’s story. She’s a circus performer, as are her entire family. Her missing daughter dabbled in the family trade but opted to go to university, and her mother’s pride is evident. The older mother speaks of the joy she felt as a child when she discovered which character would suit her best in the circus: that of an elegant clown (just like her beloved father). There are haunting shots of her, all made up in her clown gear, ready to go on stage. It is suggested that it’s what keeps her sane. The elegant clown might have once been her character, but life has conspired to ensure she now plays a far more tragic role. It’s beautiful that she still hopes to be reunited with her daughter some day. Maybe the clown will smile again.
Tempestad does not yet have an official UK release date.
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