Films: El Sicario, Room 164

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El Sicario, Room 164

El Sicario, Room 164

USA, 2010, 80 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: France
Genre/Subjects: Crime, Documentary, Political, Social Issues
Programs: Documentary Films, Festival de Cine Mexicano
Language: Spanish English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Gianfranco Rosi
Producer: Charles Bowden, Gianfranco Rosi, Serge Lalou
Editor: Jacopo Quadri
Cinematographer: Gianfranco Rosi
Principal Cast: 

The lone voice and sole subject of Gianfranco Rosi's harrowing documentary is a nameless former Mexican hitman (or sicario) who spent 20 years executing male kidnap victims, raping and strangling helpless women, setting thieves on fire, and otherwise following the bloody orders of whichever esteemed patron was running whichever vicious drug cartel he worked for. His face obscured by a filmy black hood in a claustrophobic Juárez hotel room (number 164), this cold-blooded killer describes his “career,” and the rampant corruption of the Mexican political and law-enforcement establishments, in matter-of-fact tones salted with machismo. All the while, he's bent over a sketch pad with a black felt tip clamped in his pudgy fingers, illustrating every sickening tale with childish scribbles and primitive stick figures. At other times, the sicario physically reenacts the violence, playing the roles of killer and victim alike.“My job was done when the 'package' was delivered,” he announces. “I didn't think about it after that.”

For Gianfranco and his collaborator, journalist Charles Bowden, who wrote a version of the story for Harper’s magazine, spending two days in solitary with this hombre must have been chilling. Their method was to never interrupt his narrative with an onscreen question or challenge—not even when the former college student and police cadet turned murderer complains about the stress and paranoia he sometimes suffered or goes on about the Christian conversion he says he experienced while renouncing la vida loca. He remains free today—with a $250,000 price on his head.

Sponsored by Consulate General of Mexico in Denver, Mexican Cultural Center, Wells Fargo

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