The documentary by Sinaloan José María Espinosa captures the luminous and painful experience of the El Fuerte Rastreadoras, a group that seeks victims of forced disappearance.
She is the founder of the Rastreadoras de El Fuerte de Sinaloa, one of the groups of pioneer women who since 2014 have been excavating the earth to find and identify their missing relatives. She is accompanied by other mothers, sisters, and wives, with whom she travels in pick-up trucks to the mountains to track down the “treasures” that the authorities do not even consider worth searching.
Mirna also lives with them, her companions: she dances despite her injury, argues, enjoys boiled eggs at lunch time, laughs, goes to the beach, puts on high heels, loses herself in pain and straightens up again. . The same curses when faced with the inaction of local experts. “They are worth mothers,” he accuses.
When the filmmaker José María Espinosa met her, he had no plans to make a documentary about the group, much less as his debut feature. However, it was thanks to a job commissioned by an NGO that he and his brother Juan Pablo, the film’s producer, came to Mirna.
It was an initial shock, but I realized that I had to tell this story. Many documentary filmmakers talk about the ‘subject of their documentary’, who is going to be the axis of their story and that is something cold. Mirna and I laugh because we always say that we had an instant click ”.
I named you in silence is built with the images that the filmmaker recorded when accompanying the trackers from 2016 to 2019 in different stages.By the time we reach Mirna, the group has already found about 90 treasures, including her son, Roberto Corrales, although the search is not over because the remains turned up incomplete. The scans are carried out without any protection, and many are based on messages from anonymous informants offering clues to possible findings.
If one day the devil comes and tells us: here is a treasure, each of the trackers is going to hold the devil’s hand and go with him to look for that treasure,” explains Mirna.
I thought I knew. I thought from what I had read I had an idea of how a tracking unit operated. It was quite a pleasant surprise, a painful but joyful experience, to also meet love and light and everything that these trackers carry ».
Hope has many records
As often happens in the documentary genre, the story of I named you in silence was written in the editing, a process that lasted 10 months. José María and editor Horacio Romo reviewed the 95 hours of material collected and chose the cuts that would eventually become a one hour and twenty minute film. “Horacio Romo really would have to take the writing credit because the film was written in the editing room. We could have made four or five versions of this film, with different narratives.
To find the essence of their story, both the director and the editor chose to be faithful to the duality they witnessed: the loss, but also the joy, complicity and fire of Mirna and the rest of the trackers. “It was something that I saw myself, I did not invent anything,” says the filmmaker, who allows us to see that his protagonist gets emotional when he talks to his boyfriend, that he cheats on the government representatives who receive him in Mexico City and that she puts her heels on to go out to crawl.
«There are certain films of these dynamics that are drawn towards drama and loss», José María continues, «and they do not show this duality. They [the trackers] were the ones who gave me all those records, they are the ones who cry, the ones who laugh, the ones who dance.
Sometimes these women are re-victimized a lot. When we see them having a good time or with the boyfriend there is like a finger that points at them and tells them that they should almost always be crying, they should have this black veil that goes through them. But there are nuances in life.
The representation of pain, for its part, raised other questions. What should be left in and what should be left out in a documentary like this? “This is something that worried me a lot from the beginning”, says the director, “it is very easy to get unconsciously morbid, to hang on that pain to be strident and have the audience crying all the time. But this is not the point. We could have made another movie. He had, for example, a scene in a grave where they sing the mañanitas to a morrito that they found on his birthday. It was heartbreaking. But in the edition we asked ourselves, do we already have a scene that represents that pain? ah ok, then there is no need to repeat it ».
Similar questions framed the team’s decisions when it came to filming the unearthed remains. “We were splitting our heads. Shall we put a tint in there, as gloomy? But that is putting an accent where it is not needed. What can be said there? You can say absolutely nothing. We knew we had to go into silence. And those solutions don’t come quickly. Even though I have gone to film, I am out of that reality and it takes a little time to reach those conclusions ».
Unless they’re safe
5,000 missing persons. Even so, they and the other groups of trackers in the country work without support, with limited resources, in dangerous conditions and often under threat .
They were going to be tracked with a patrol behind. But all this has changed. whom you are going. So they have to decide between going with a patrol in the back and later realizing that they are there, or flying underneath and going without a patrol, but defenseless. They stopped using the patrol because there are no real mechanisms to protect them.
The filmmaker narrates how during a search, bullets were heard in a burst intended to intimidate the group.They put us in a mechanism where they give you a satellite phone that has no signal outside the city and a number that we could dial. They gave us a panic button and when you pressed it, four or five minutes passed and someone from the police would dial you: what happened, mijo? It was a crazy laugh. When you have a meeting of these in two seconds you are already tied up in the truck. If that is the protection mechanism they give journalists, we are screwed.
I named you in silence also aims to raise awareness of the dangers these groups face. “If they are already going to do the government job, at least they are safe,” José María concludes.