The Guardian of Memory (El guardián de la memoria), the second feature film by Mexican director Marcela Arteaga, will have its U.S. premiere in the official competition at the 2019 edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival taking place October 17 to 20 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
A strong and lyrical meditation on Mexico’s failed drug wars and their devastating impact on local communities, fueled by an astonishing cinematography by DP Axel Pedraza, The Guardian of Memory had its world premiere in the international competition at the last edition of the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival in Toronto. It will have its much-anticipated Mexican premiere in the documentary competition at the upcoming Morelia Film Festival at the end of October.
In Arteaga’s powerful documentary, dramatic and quiet landscapes from Mexico’s Juarez Valley are juxtaposed with horrifying but intimately-told tales of mass murder. In 2008, the Mexican government sent an army to the rugged border region with the purported goal of fighting the rampant drug trafficking. As locals from Juarez and Chihuahua tearfully recount the stories of their murdered or disappeared children, parents, and siblings, a Texas-based lawyer argues that asylum seekers from the area must be considered victims of a genocide.
As Mexico’s new federal administration, under the still-young presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has deployed more armed forces throughout the country and has granted them a constitutional role in domestic security—in clear opposition to his electoral promise of withdrawing the military from the streets, The Guardian of Memory serves as a daring and cinematic testament to a dragging humanitarian crisis with no clear end in sight.
Director Marcela Arteaga graduated from Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) in Mexico City. Remembrance (Recuerdos), her 2003 debut documentary feature, received support from the Rockefeller Foundation and went to screen in numerous international film festivals including Karlovy Vary, Festival des Films du Monde in Montreal, and Hot Docs, and was awarded numerous awards including for Best Film and the FIPRESCI Award at the Guadalajara IFF, México, the Jury’s Special Award at the Guanajuato International Film Festival and at the Malaga International Film Festival, Spain. Nominated for Best Documentary Film at the Mexican Academy Awards.