LOS CABOS — An eight-year-old girl, Ana, looks into a hairdresser’s mirror as a woman, standing behind her, cuts her hair. “The doctor’s really scared,” the hairdresser says to the girl’s mother. “Aren’t you going to close?” the mother asks the hairdresser. “No, I pay to be here. I’m protected,” the woman replies. Still looking at the mirror, the young girl begins to cry, as quietly as she can. A friend, sitting beside her, takes her hands regarding her with compassion.
In a second sequence of Tatiana Huezo’s upcoming “Noche de Fuego,”, presented by the director and producer Nicolas Celis (“Roma,” “Tempestad”) at Mexico’s Los Cabos Festival,
a man bangs on the family door. The mother comes out of the house to confront him, a machete in hand. Ana, now aged 14, watches the scene hidden behind nearby foliage.
“We’ve come for the girl,” the man orders
“There’s no girl here,” the mother answers, as one of his underlings barges into the house to find the daughter.
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The first man threatens to shoot the mother if she doesn’t hand over the girl. But the mother stands firm.
The subordinate returns.
“There’s nobody in the house. Shall I kill her,” he asks.
“I work in the poppy fields,” the mother says – the only defense she can think of.
The men leave. The mother sinks to her knees, a split second before a salvo crash into the house wall above her. As the sequence ends, there’s no way of telling whether she’s alive or dead.
Marking the transition of the celebrated Mexican director from documentary to fiction, “Noche de fuego” has one of the most impressive pedigree backing of any film due to open next year, being produced by Celis’ Pimienta Films in co-production with Germany’s The Match Factory Productions, which also handles world sales, Brazil’s Desvía Films, Switzerland’s Borde Cadre Films and Mexico’s Cactus Films. Co-financiers take in Arte, ZDF, NRW, Sundance Institute, the World Cinema Fund, Hubert Bals Fund and the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, the first to board the project, Huezo reminded an industry audience at Los Cabos.
“Perhaps the most important thing of this journey from documentary to fiction has been trying to place the emotions of a human being in thespian of a character,” she added.
“Noche de fuego” is the story of three young girls, friends, who live in a small village in the mountains. It’s a story which turns on love, friendship and loyalty,” she went on, calling it “above all an honest look at violence and the silence of the adult world.”
It is difficult and dangerous to judge a film on two sequences. Reaction among an industry audience at Los Cabos was, however, that the title, which will be ready early in 2020, is bound for a major berth at a major festival next year.