Identifying Features
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Identifying Features

Directed by Fernanda Valadez

Year: 2020
Running Time: 94 minutes
Country: Mexico, Spain
Language: Spanish with English subtitles

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.

Watch a Q&A with director and co-writer Fernanda Valadez and producer and co-writer Astrid Rondero from New Directors/New Films:

Reviews

“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.”


Awards
  • Winner: Best International Film – Gotham Awards

  • Winner: Audience Award, World Dramatic – Sundance Film Festival

  • Winner: Best Screenplay, World Dramatic – Sundance Film Festival

  • Winner: Best Film, Audience Award, Best Actress – Morelia International Film Festival
  • Winner: Golden Eye – Zurich Film Festival

  • Winner: Golden Alexander, Thessaloniki Film Festival
  • Winner: Best Director, Best First Film – Stockholm Film Festival
  • Winner: Latin Horizon Award – San Sebastian Film Festival
Cast
Mercedes Hernández
David Illescas
Juan Jesús Varela
Ana Laura Rodríguez
Laura Elena Ibarra
Xicoténcatl Ulloa

Crew
Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Writers Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero

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