“Without Particular Signs”: Violence And Drug Trafficking From The Eyes Of A Mother

Photograph given today by Cinépolis Distribución, where the screenwriter, director and producer, Astrid Rondero (i), and Mexican filmmaker, Fernanda Valadez (r), can be seen posing in Mexico City. EFE / Cinépolis Distribución / EDITORIAL USE ONLY / ONLY AVAILABLE TO ILLUSTRATE THE ACCOMPANYING NEWS (MANDATORY CREDIT).

The painful journey a mother undertakes in search of her missing son is portrayed through the lens of Mexican filmmaker Fernanda Valadez in the film “No particular signs”.

“The time has come to see the other side of the coin, instead of praising drug trafficking, we see the other side, the damage it does,” says its protagonist, actress Mercedes Hernández, in an interview this Tuesday with Efe.

On the Mexican border it had become common for Passenger trucks will arrive at their destination empty but loaded with suitcases without owners.

The complaints of at least 400 relatives of the disappeared and the testimony of some survivors allowed what is now known as the San Fernando massacre to come to light.

11/06/2020 Frame from the feature film'Sin señas particulars', screened at Sundance and winner of Horizontes Latinos at the last San Sebastian Film Festival. POLITICA ANDALUCÍA SPAIN EUROPE HUELVA CULTURE IBERO-AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
11/06/2020 Frame from the feature film ‘Sin señas particulars’, screened at Sundance and winner of Horizontes Latinos at the last San Sebastian Film Festival. POLITICA ANDALUCÍA SPAIN EUROPE HUELVA CULTURE IBERO-AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL

In 2011 at least 193 people were found in clandestine graves in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, victims of kidnapping, disappearance and recruitment by the cartel known as Los Zetas.

Finding out about this event gave the director the first impulse to create a fiction in which the violence that engulfs Mexico could be portrayed.

Three years after the event, he made the short film “400 suitcases” (2014), an antecedent to the same story that he presented in 2020 as “No particular signs”, in which he delves into the story of Magdalena, a mother who cannot find her son Jesus and who travels from the state of Guanajuato to the frontier in search.

Jesús wanted to emigrate to the United States accompanied by his friend Rigo in search of a better life and in return, they both ran into drug trafficking.

The last one died and his mother has proof of it, but Magdalena does not, and The possibility of finding her son alive moves her to travel through the terror zones of an inhospitable state marked by violence.

The director Fernanda Valadez in an interview with Efe at the San Sebastián Festival, where she presented "No particular signs". EFE / Javier Etxezarreta / Archive
The director Fernanda Valadez in an interview with Efe at the San Sebastian Festival, where she presented “Sin señas particulars”. EFE / Javier Etxezarreta / Archive

“We wanted the film to be very believable that it felt very real (…) that led us to think that photography and the way we see around it was important to talk about emotions,” says the director.

The photography was carried out by Claudia Becerril and contrasts the beauty of the Border landscapes with the heartbreaking story of a mother without answers, intertwines them with pain and fear, leaving an invisible but tangible violence in ambiguity.

The character played by Mercedes Hernández embodies many weaknesses in Mexican society, she is a single mother who lives in poverty, cannot read and violence and insecurity took away her son and the possibility of starting over.

“It is true that (Magdalena) is small, she has no resources, she has never traveled but her heart is swollen with love and anger, with the desire to find her son”Hernández says.

Mercedes was inspired by being able to give a voice to one of the thousands of “Cupcakes” that exist in the country. “It gives an enormous illusion of making a credible and complex character,” he points out.


(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

The production team of “No particular signs” It is mostly female, a characteristic celebrated by the director who has worked on several occasions with the screenwriter, director and producer, Astrid Rondero.

“Astrid and I have collaborated since we were students and it was very natural to start adding partners with whom to collaborate out of creative affinity,” says Fernanda.

Valadez considers that each time there are more filmmakers dedicated to technical areas such as photography and editing, enriching projects like yours.

“Many times the filmmakers have passed so many filters that those who resist them come much more mature, with a lot of talent and a lot of character,” she mentions.

After having received more than 21 awards at international festivals, “No particular signs” arrives in national theaters on August 5 and Astrid and Fernanda, who claim to have formed a “special couple”, are preparing for their next work together.

“It is about childhood in these times of drug trafficking. Of a drug orphan and the fate of the inheritances that these new generations are going to have. This is different from what we have done so far because it has a more hopeful ending, ”says Astrid.



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