Monday, August 1, 2011

Real-life Violence Inspires Mexico's 'Narco Movies'

By Rafael Romo
CNN


It's a scene that Mexicans have become accustomed to: Drug lords, hit men and organized crime bosses are paraded in front of the cameras for the whole world to see on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

That notorious drug world and violence is now showing up on the big and small screen in a new genre called "narco movies."

Titles such as "The Big Bazooka Shot," "The Sinaloa Jackals," "Land of Blood" and "Narcos and Dogs" are among the most popular movies depicting the inside life of drug cartels and gangs.

Filmmakers say their screenplays are based on current events but pale in comparison to reality -- the ongoing armed conflict among rival drug cartels and the Mexican government has left as many as 40,000 dead in the last four years. Torture, including savage beatings and executions by decapitation, have become common news as rival cartels fight turf wars.

Juan Manuel Romero is a filmmaker who specializes in narco movies. He says that unlike Hollywood films, his movies are not an exaggeration of what happens.

"We are not even close to reflecting reality," Romero says. "You can actually call our movies 'soft' because we don't show as much blood and killings. We just try to give people what they want."

In one movie, "Gente de Alto Poder" (or "High-Powered People"), shootouts between rival drug cartels fill the screen. Dialogue includes lines such as, "We can't avoid the executions that catch the media's attention and put pressure on authorities."

This reality-based genre is proving popular. Seven movie production houses in Mexico are dedicated to "narco movies." Filmmakers say these movies make about $12 million a year -- but that's not including the money made by the vast amount of DVDs sold in the underground market.

"Narco movies" are also finding popularity in the United States. Recent Mexican immigrants are able to buy the movies available on DVD at stores that cater to the Mexican community in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

The gang and drug violence may be proving popular on the big and small screens, but in reality, many Mexicans are demanding changes.

The high number of drug-related executions has made Mexican President Felipe Calderon's law enforcement approach to drug violence unpopular with an increasing number of Mexicans.

And many are calling for a new strategy by Mexico including poet Javier Sicilia. His son was kidnapped and murdered in March. In a meeting with Calderon last month, Sicilia asked for a moment of silence for the victims of what he called "an atrocious and senseless war."

Meanwhile, filmmakers say they make sure their screenplays don't rub any of the cartels the wrong way. It's a kind of self-censorship that keeps them safe.

"We deal with these issues in the best way possible. We're not afraid that they're going to come after us because we behave. We do things the best we can and so far we haven't been threatened by anybody," Romero says.

10 comments:

  1. To clarify: The Narco Movies is not a new phenomenon but a continuation of low budget films made in Mexico and now also in Los Angeles California that have existed for a long period of time. There are many movies that have been made way before like; Camelia La Texana in which members of Los Tigres del Norte (Corrido music group) participates or the countless movies the legendaries Hermanos Almada acted in. People that watch and like these types of movies are a very small percentage of Mexicanos. Novelas in the other hand are more popular and seen by almost everyone! Narco Novela is the current phenomenon i.e., La Reina del Sur, Cartel de los Sapos, Cartel and others which are profiting all aover the Spanish speaking communities especially in the USA.

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  2. "We just want to give people what they want."

    Wow. If i lived there, I wouldn't want more like that this days. You watch out window, U see narcoshit, you watch TV, U see narcoshit.
    What that do to your mind and attitudes in long run? Not good I guess.

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  3. These movies are great if you like shitty acting, special effects from the 60's and the whole movie shot with a $150 camara. Narco=Naco

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  4. these movies are shitty the only good Narco movie I saw was El Infierno by Luis Estrada

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  5. Typical Mexico. They make movies that glorify the pathetic state of their country and then wonder "why is this happening" If you have ever seen Mexican novelas or soap operas they too glorify rape, child sexual abuse, and violence against woman in general. Shocking that this leads people to live it out.

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  6. Very true, a small percentage of Mexicans really watch this crap. They are very low budget films that aren't worth the film they are filmed on.

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  7. The only good thing about these movies is they usually contain women, who are generally "hot" and wear close to nothing! Lol, other than that they suck..like watching the old "Asian produced" karate movies from the 70's and 80's.

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  8. Ignorants. These movies are forbidden in Mexico. They are called "videohomes" and are filmed, produced, and sold in the United States.

    the only way you could get this kind of movies in Mexico is through the underground market.

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  9. @08/02-4:42PM
    ignorants? Maybe you should learn how to read..the article states "underground market." Since when does "forbidden" mean shit in Mexico! Mexico has strict gun ownership laws..yet every MF sicario is armed to the teeth. The way things are in Juarez, you would think murder was legal! My point is Mexico may have laws but the rule of law doesn't mean much, when you can't enforce them!

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  10. JaJa..forbidden! that's really funny cabrone, in Mexico, everything is for sale for a price legal or illegal including these movies and they are abundantly available.

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