499, the fourth feature film by director Rodrigo Reyes, will have its world premiere as part of the official documentary competition at the 19th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, followed by its Canadian premiere in the International Spectrum competition at the 2020 edition of the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival in Toronto.
The year 2021 marks the 500-year anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. To commemorate the historical occasion, director Reyes offers a provocative hybrid-cinema experience to explore the brutal legacy of colonialism in contemporary Mexico.
Through the eyes of a ghostly conquistador (played by newcomer Eduardo San Juan Breña), Reyes recreates Hernán Cortez’s epic journey from the coasts of Veracruz to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, the site of contemporary Mexico City. As the anachronistic fictional character interacts with real victims and subjects of Mexico’s failed drug wars, the filmmaker portrays the country’s current humanitarian crisis as part of a vicious and unfinished colonial project, still in motion, nearly five-hundred years later.
Bold, unique, and strikingly cinematic, 499 mixes non-fictional and performative elements with components of a road movie to show how past traumas continue to affect contemporary reality. In so doing, director Reyes links seemingly disparate histories of violence, while confirming him as one of the potent voices in American independent cinema.
The film will be available to stream online between April 15 – 26, as part of Tribeca’s Industry Extranet Resource Hub, reserved for journalists and members of the industry, and it will also be available for registered Hot Docs industry delegates, beginning April 30.
Rodrigo Reyes is a Mexican-born American director whose films include the documentary Purgatorio and the dramatic narrative Lupe Under the Sun. He has screened in nearly 50 film festivals around the world, including Morelia, BFI London, and MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, garnering rave reviews in The New York Times, Variety and other media outlets, as well as multiple jury awards. Named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine, he has received significant support for his work from the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute and more; his work has been featured on America ReFramed and Netflix. He is a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and the Creative Capital Award.