Directed by Natalia Almada • Documentary • 2011 • 72 minutes
Martin, the night watchman, arrives with the setting sun in his rumbling blue Chevrolet. The cemetery mascots, EI Negro y La Negra, chase his truck down the road and greet him with wagging tails. The sound of construction fades away as the daytime workers leave and Martin is left alone, looking out over the skyline of mausoleums where Mexico's most notorious drug lords lie at rest. Crosses and steel construction bars pierce the purple and pink sky. As night descends luxurious cars fill the dirt roads. Mercedes, a sexy young widow, arrives with her little girl in a pristine white Audi. A portrait of her husband, a corrupt policeman holding a machine gun, watches over them as they sweep and mop the shiny marble floors. The coconut vendor's radio blasts a gory list of the day's murders: 'Culiacan has become a war zone.' The buzz of cicadas fills the air with anticipation. Through Martin's vigilant eyes we watch time pass in this place where time stands still.
A portrait of the daily life of the cemetery allows us to see the intersection between those who make a living there and those who rest there-innocent or guilty. EL VELADOR is a film about violence without violence.
"EL VELADOR is an unsettlingly quiet, even lyrical film about a world made and unmade by violence." —A. O. Scott, The New York Times