Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the Gotham Award for Best International Film and the Audience Award and Best Screenplay prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Critic’s Pick! A sophisticated acknowledgment of the powerlessness that migrants face... enlivened and energized by striking, purposeful images.”
“A humanitarian lament by way of a slow-burn thriller… one of the best films to ever address this crisis.”
“Combines stunning cinematography, evocative sound design and hints of magical realism to create a visionary work of devastating power."
"A stunning Mexican border drama."
“A haunting and beautifully realized film.”
“On every level, this is impressively accomplished cinema.”
“A confident, accomplished and distinctive feature directorial debut.”
“An austere, gorgeously shot parable of chaos and loss in modern Mexico.”
“Valadez has crafted an instant classic, a quiet achievement that will echo thunderously for decades to come... Identifying Features is a masterpiece."
“Speaks volumes of the boundaries of the human heart and of the undeniable qualities of this director, who should be watched with interest.”
Juan Jesús Varela
Ana Laura Rodríguez
Laura Elena Ibarra
Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Writers Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero