La Libertad del Diablo (Devil’s Freedom), dir. Everardo Gonzalez – Catalina Layton

Devil’s Freedom is a documentary created by Everardo Gonzalez. It highlights a topic often avoided by the Mexican people: the war on drugs. Unlike many films and series about drug cartels which typically focus on those in power and the glory involved, this documentary focuses on the victims. There was no cohesive plot or exciting story, instead individuals told their stories of how the cartels impacted them. Gonzalez interviewed young girls whose mothers were taken from them, young men who had somehow gotten involved in the cartel, soldiers in the Mexican Army, and mothers whose children were killed. Each individual is wearing a mask, making them seem like they were all one in the same and giving them the freedom to tell their story. One story that was particularly impactful was a young man talking about his first killing at the age of 14. He discusses how his life lost meaning and he didn’t feel anything but he always killed because of the large amounts of money and the “pride” the cartels made him feel. Additionally, the conclusion was extremely emotional as those who killed talked about their regret and asked for forgiveness and the victims talked about why they could or couldn’t forgive them. One young girl, whose mother went missing, says that her idea of revenge would be a situation in which she holds the power and she holds all of their emotions, making them feel the way she imagines her mother felt. The whole documentary highlighted the fact that these are all humans, those participating and those who were victim.

One formal film element that made the film impactful was shot properties. Each interview was conducted very close. The shots were all zoomed in and focused on the face. The masks only showed eyes, nose, lips, and ears. This combined with the zoomed in frame allowed the viewers to get close to those speaking and to feel the emotion. There was pain visible in the eyes of each person and you could see the way each tear stained the masks. The zoomed in frame allowed you to see this emotion and connect with each individual. The shot properties used really enhanced the emotions and allowed the viewers to experience the vulnerability throughout the documentary.

Another interesting thing about the film festival is that the director of the film was there to present it. Gonzalez introduced the film and then stayed after for questions. It was exciting to hear his perspective and his goal for the documentary’s message. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and would certainly recommend it.