Sin señas particulares

Sin señas particulares

Screenings in Swiss cinema theatres

ONLINE STREAMING (Switzerland) on Filmexplorer’s Choice by 

«World Cinema Dramatic» Audience Award and Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay at Sundance Festival 2020, then Golden Eye for the Best Film at the Zurich Film Festival 2020. Yes, Fernanda Valadez knows how to make a film – even if this is only her feature debut. Minimal and direct in the plot, Sin señas particulares speaks through wonderful photography and framing: a skilled balance of landscapes, short depth of focus close-ups, clever play between background and foreground motives. Through these formal elements, the young filmmaker manages to express the struggle of the individual within a constantly threatening environment, which is underlined by a monotonous and dramatic soundtrack. This is the struggle of a mother, Magdalena, in search of the truth concerning her missing child. More stubborn than heroic, she succeeds in breaking the “protective” and corrupt silence around missing people in Mexico, actually would-be or rejected migrants. Her road trip will lead us at the border with the States, a territory of anarchy and violence, which the film accurately depicts without giving us any clear geographical reference points. This land without landmarks painfully coalesces with the often ungrounded and brutal violence that lies at the centre of the film, like an inexplicable dark magnet.

Inexplicable or simply unexplained? Is violence in Mexico really a transcendent matter, powerful like a diabolic divinity (as it is presented in the film)? What is behind the horror of brutality? How can so many people go through such a dehumanization? Sin señas particulares aligns itself to a flourishing Mexican cinema that is devoted entirely to exploring the “phenomenon” of violence – certainly a perfect cinematic subject. The anecdotic description of violence and its tragic consequences is often the focus of cinematic attention, one that seems predominantly oriented to claiming or compassion. Elements of understanding the “habit” of violence like fatalism, romantism or heroism, and of course corruption and class division, surface less frequently. Is this a cinematic opportunism that ends up being an indirect celebration of violence? A difficult question. Fernanda Valadez’ disquieting end of the film, however, brings a relatively new contribution to this question in highlighting, not without a general documentary tonality, how evil can even affect the unsuspecting “normal” people…


First published: February 21, 2021

Sin señas particulares | Film | Fernanda Valadez | MEX-ES 2020 | 95’ | Zurich Film Festival 2020
Golden Eye for the Best Film at the Zurich Film Festival 2020

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