When the lineup for Cannes 2021 was revealed it was apparent that there is very little Latin-American representation within the lineup, both in front and behind the screen. This makes Latina director Tatiana Huezo’s presence at Cannes even more noteworthy; not just because her film is one of very few Latin-American films, but she, a Mexico-based director of Salvadoran descent, is also the only Latina director in the Un Certain Regard (“from another angle”) section. Yes! Not only do we have Latin-American people being represented on the screen but also behind the camera. A story which centers on the perspectives of young girls being told through the eyes of a woman is empowering in and of itself, giving way to more authentic portrayals of women in films.
Huezo’s Prayers for the Stolen revolves around three young girls as they grow together in a mountain town in Mexico burdened by the war. Their transition into adolescence exists within the context of a time in which violent threats are unavoidable in their lives. “As Huezo delivers a delicate portrait of a childhood friendship, ephemeral but profoundly intense and hopeful, contrasted by the sordid cruelty of the reality that surrounds them highlighting the paradoxical nature of the Latin American country where human sweetness can be followed by the most absurd brutality,” Variety reported.
Huezo’s work has been a part of the festival circuit for a while now. Her films—which have mostly been documentaries—have led to much praise, cementing her position as a force to be reckoned with in the film industry. Her most recent documentary film, Tempestad, is by far one of her most recognized and lauded works. The documentary was the Mexican entry for Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2018 Academy Awards and participated in as many as 100 festivals. Additionally, the film was able to earn the Fénix Award in Mexico for “Best Documentary Film” and Huezo took home the Ariel Award which recognizes excellence in Mexican cinema for “Best Director”.
On top of her success with feature-length films, Huezo’s repertoire includes much success with short films that have also garnered attention. Her 2011 short film The Tiniest Place—which features the stories of survivors of the civil war in El Salvador— was internationally acclaimed. Given that most of her work has revolved around documentaries, Prayers for the Stolen marks her debut fiction film based on the 2012 novel Noche de Fuego by Mexican-American author Jennifer Clement which is set in war-torn Guerrero. The film, set to premiere July 15, is definitely one to keep on your radar during this festival season.