Directed by Hatuey Viveros Lavielle • Documentary • 2014 • 80 minutes
Jorge is preparing to graduate from law school-the first person from his mountain village in Mexico ever to do so. Chayo, his pregnant 16-year-old sister, faces the most difficult decision of her young life. Meanwhile their quiet and methodical mother, Tere, does her best to support them both, selling handmade napkin holders for 15 pesos (about $1) apiece.
CAFE is a carefully observed and intimate documentary that follows the family during the crucial year following the death of Chayo and Jorge's father, Antonio. Director and cinematographer Hatuey Viveros' careful eye highlights the almost ritualistic daily moments marking life in the indigenous village of Quetzalan: sorting coffee beans; roasting coffee in a dented pan; flipping tortillas over an open fire; feeding the turkeys that will serve as dinner during the ritual marking the first anniversary of Antonio's death.
Viveros succeeds in making his camera seemingly invisible to the subjects of this remarkable film. Whether we are accompanying Jorge in one of his first cases as a lawyer‐helping a woman who has been coerced into taking out a loan on behalf of her employer, or listening to Tere and Chayo discussing her going to the city to seek an abortion‐CAFE fully immerses in the lives of its protagonists as they struggle to move forward following personal tragedy.