Cumbia rebajada, a slowed-down version of the popular dance music from Colombia, guides the rhythm of Ya No Estoy Aquí (I’m No Longer Here). The social realist Mexican drama from director Fernando Frias de la Parra immerses the viewer in the dangerous, yet tune-driven life of street gangs in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, the very city where this low-tempo cumbia was born.
Frias, who recently directed HBO’s Los Espookys, cast nonprofessional actors directly from the places he wanted to depict. It’s scripted but performed by those who’ve had similar experiences in these marginalized communities, a sort of docufiction.
Boasting a hairdo that may appear flamboyant to outsiders but typical of where he’s from, Ulises (Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño) leads Los Terkos Locos, a gang accustomed to both hyper-violence and constant dancing around them, until he must migrate to find safety. The trailer for Ya No Estoy Aquí ensures the element of performance, which requires the dancer to bend their knees nearly squatting, feel vital.
Although there’s a sense of hyperrealism, the presence of the cinematic eye doesn’t go unnoticed, particularly when Frias and cinematographer Damián García (Museo, Desierto) capture a gruesome drive-by shooting in meditative focus or when Ulises dances with the mountains as a backdrop and the light gives the scenes a sacred dimension. There’s kinetic energy to the film’s imagery. The slang particular to these groups of young people in northern Mexico magnifies the authenticity on display.
At the 2019 Morelia International Film Festival, Ya No Estoy Aquí won both the juried Best Film Award and the Audience Award. Frias and his team have promised via social media that the project will screen at home in Monterrey before the end of the year. The film premieres on Netflix in 2020.
Check out the trailer below.