Tijuana, like other border cities across the world, has caught a bad rep. Known as a place of depravity and countless social ills, we’ve all heard it used as a punchline in many a tasteless American joke. It’s a freak show, a drug market, a bordello, a tent-city filled with homeless deportees, but rarely has it been treated as a place of deep humanity. Perhaps for this reason, Mexican filmmaker-sociologist Ricardo Silva took on the task of creating Navajazo, a sensitive, humanistic portrait of some of the city’s more marginal residents.
The docu-fiction hybrid imagines a post-apocalyptic world populated by an eclectic cast of characters including prostitutes, porn directors, satanic street musicians and c-list home video actors, all of which are imbued with dignity and shown with great affection by the director’s compassionate eye.
The trailer shows a keen aesthetic sensibility, with visually stunning camera work and a melancholy but optimistic score that gently pushes along the touching voiceover interviews. The intimacy that Silva achieved with his subjects is evident in the closeness of his shots and the comfort with which each character relates to the omnipresent camera.
Navajazo had its world premiere at this year’s edition of the FICUNAM (International Film Festival of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), and will be featured next month in the prestigious official competition of the Locarno Film Festival. Let’s hope it makes it’s way stateside before too long, so we can also bear witness to this cinematic gem.