TRAILER: ‘This is Not Berlin’ is a Coming-of-Age Story Set in Mexico City’s 80s Art Punk Underworld

Lead Photo: 'This is not Berlin' still courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.
'This is not Berlin' still courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.
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The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing and we’ve got you covered, listing all the Latino movies, series and shorts being shown. One of the features debuting at the festival is from Mexican director Hari Sama and it looks to be intense. This is Not Berlin is the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who finds a new sense of identity in an underground nightclub. The first trailer has dropped and you can prep for drama, angst, and ’80s club vibes.

The trailer starts in slow motion, introducing Xabiani Ponce de Léon’s Carlos. He’s standing stock-still in the midst of a chaotic throng of students in school uniform fighting, almost in suspended animation before he’s jostled to the ground. Based on the New Wave music, boxy shoulder-padded blazers and references to AIDS that follow, it’s safe to assume This is Not Berlin takes us back to the ’80s. After fixing someone’s synth piano keyboard, Carlos is given access to a mysterious underground club known as el Azteca – an uninhibited space described as not “gay bar” but an “everything bar.” Dancing, sex, and drugs are easily obtainable in this neon-tinged world, and soon Carlos is wrapped up in a rapid-fire series of events that leaves his mother – played by Roma star and Oscar nominee Marina de Tavira – alarmed. Teen rebellion ensues: he shaves off half his hair, gets in trouble at school, and fights with a close friend – events which are interspersed with scenes of chaos in the street, showing that the life in Mexico City suburb Lomas Verdes is suffused with its own drama.

Sama’s film looks slick and in-your-face. The mix of synth music and extreme violence is poignant, and the main character of Carlos seems cool and detached on the surface, but it’s clear there’s more going on underneath. The movie promises to be a coming-of-age drama capturing Mexican youth struggling against society’s norms.

This is Not Berlin premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and does not yet have a wide release date.