×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Inheritors

The harsh, relentlessly arduous conditions experienced by children toiling in the Mexican countryside are observed with striking vision and cinematic poetry by filmmaker Eugenio Polgovsky in "The Inheritors."

The harsh, relentlessly arduous conditions experienced by children toiling in the Mexican countryside are observed with striking vision and cinematic poetry by filmmaker Eugenio Polgovsky in “The Inheritors.” Though this new doc is a natural extension of his highly regarded debut, “Tropic of Cancer,” especially in its intimate view of Mexico’s poorest of the poor, it’s also a leap forward in technique and powered by a stronger emotional pull. A tour of some of the world’s top fests and strong critical support should land the pic in a prestige spot for tube and vid sales.

Trusting in images, natural sound and a fine, rhythmic sense of editing to tell his story, Polgovsky (along with sound recordist Camille Tauss) spent three years with subsistence farmers in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Puebla and Veracruz. Rejecting a pity-the-poor perspective, his approach relies on a physical, roving DV cam keeping up with the child workers and — like in “Tropic of Cancer,” though with a far better video image results — watching them so closely that the viewer can feel their exertion. An angry sense of injustice is never insisted upon; instead, it emerges organically, like the harvested crops themselves, from the film’s material.

Gone are any of the standard explanatory graphic cards, voiceover intros or music cues designed to push emotional buttons, making “The Inheritors” part of an enthralling global trend in nonfiction films committed to unvarnished realism, treating both auds and subjects respectfully and without condescension.

Early passages may seem randomly sampled, as pic shows goat herders, a truckload of farm workers harvesting chiles, tomatoes and green beans, and other farm activities.

Yet a solid structure does emerge, with each location and sequence meticulously edited, broken up into small sections that are either regularly revisited or stitched together into montages that recall the silent-era Soviet docs of Dziga Vertov. Crucially, Polgovsky never makes the kids’ tough existences into something beautiful for its own sake, even though some of the lushly green hillside settings are gorgeous. Instead, the film trains on the detailed work each child does: the skill demanded to make bricks from scratch, or the right way to use rope to tie a bundle of wood and secure it to a burro.

So mesmerizing is the world Polgovsky homes in on that it may take a while for it to sink in that the child laborers are stuck in sub-Third World conditions, deprived of any education and seemingly condemned to a life of subsistence farming. Title’s meaning draws from this, as well as the underlying point that these conditions are precisely the cause of population flight north of the border.

Camerawork is sharp and extraordinarily nimble in some physically demanding conditions, and provides a fine demonstration of the outstanding picture quality that can now be delivered by small DV cams. Highly selective use of traditional conjunto band music serves to celebrate life rather than to elicit easy sympathy.

The Inheritors

Mexico

Production: A Tecolote Films presentation. (International sales: Tecolote Films, Mexico City.) Produced, directed, edited by Eugenio Polgovsky.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Polgovsky; music, Banda Mixe de Oaxaca; sound, Camille Tauss; supervising sound editor, Cristian Manzutto; re-recording mixer, Manzutto. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Dec. 21, 2008. (In Santa Barbara Film Festival. Also in 2008 Venice Film Festival -- Horizon; Rotterdam Film Festival -- Bright Future; Berlin Film Festival -- Generation KPlus.) Running time: 90 MIN.

More Scene

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million Monday [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content