At first glance, the Mexican narco-dystopia that director Julio Hernández Cordón has dreamed up in his latest film, Cómprame un revólver (Buy Me A Gun), looks rather familiar. The dusty deserted landscapes he’s shooting house an image of an anarchy-ridden world run by narcos that could very well serve as a documentary on the current state of several regions of Northern Mexico. It’s only the details that begin giving this Mad Max-inspired movie away: there are kids in cages who look like something straight out of Hook, some narcos wear torn dresses over their bullet-proof vests, and while there’s nary a police force in sight, there’s also something else missing from this story: women.
In this imagined not-so-distant future world (think Children of Men but in Sonora), women are a disappearing species. That’s why our young protagonist, Huck (played by Matilde Hernandez, the director’s own daughter) wears a mask. If the armed guys who employ her dad to keep up a baseball field ever found out she’s a girl, she’d surely be taken away. That’s what happened to her older sister and her mother.
As Hernández Cordón shared at a post-screening Q&A for the drama at Los Cabos International Film Festival, casting his daughter made the project feel all the more personal. That sense of it feeling post-apocalyptic, where everyday people are at the mercy of senseless violence, led him to have some frank conversations with his young daughter. “Violence in Mexico is like a Russian roulette,” he said, and while his own family may not be privy to what that means, they cannot help but be informed by it. “My daughters don’t belong to that context. Because war and violence is more restricted to those more vulnerable populations, those who live in poverty, they’re the ones who suffer the most. Sometimes those of us in the middle-class we feel it, but not that much.”
Confronting that issue was what made him want to write and direct this drama. We follow Huck as she befriends a group of boys (including one who’s missing an arm and is intent on getting it back). And while she’s often protected by her dad’s good luck, she’ll slowly have to make her way by herself in a bullet-riddled world. He wants it to feel hopeful, even with all the blood that’s shed over its run. Ultimately it’s an empowering story, he said. About “a girl who becomes a leader. Who can change the present. Who represents all of this built-up weariness about our current world that’s led so many of us to respond and become almost like animals.”
“It’s a movie not about violence,” the director shared, “but about resistance. About the people who withstand it.”
This Q&A was conducted in Spanish and translated by the author for Remezcla.