Something’s rotten in the state of state of Chihuahua
Watching Backyard, the Mexican crime thriller that made it’s US premiere at the Chicago Film Festival Thursday, you wish it were not actually based on a true story. Set in Juarez in the 19990′s when over a thousand women went missing and hundreds were found raped and murdered, Backyard is of a harrowing condemnation of rape culture and political indifference. It’s a procedural that’s painful to watch, and unforgettable.
The film centers on the efforts of Blanco, a female police detective assigned to the deluge of murders targeting young women working in local factories. She meets resistance at every stage of her investigations as her superiors ignore the case to protect their own payoffs and business concerns. Blanco spends her time driving in circles, a lone investigator assigned to hundreds of murders perpetrated by an unknown number of assailants.
Backyard‘s explicit depiction of violence against women was enough to make my stomach turn. While the film shows devastating indifference and devaluation of women, it makes sure not frame these issues as unique to our neighbors to the south. At one point, a character states that the victims were targeted “just for being women.” A Chicago Tribune article today demonstrates that even in Chicago, women suffer needlessly because evidence from sex crimes go untested.
Jimmy Smits co-stars as a total creep. I did not stay for the Q and A afterwards with the director.