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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

SDLFF Highlight: La Zona

La Zona

La Zona screens Sunday March 9 at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. (Wild Bunch)

By Carlos Sepulveda

La Zona (screening March 9 at 10:00 as part of the San Diego Latino Film Festival ) opens with a mysterious outlook that we later understand and grieve. The movie takes place in Mexico City, in a community inside the city that is purposely isolated from the poor slums by its rich inhabitants. The community is called La Zona, a place where the rich and the high middle class live. La Zona is separated by towering walls and protected by cameras intended to keep the petty out.

During a storm three young thieves manage to break into La Zona. Things become complicated once they are on the other side of the wall. In their attempt to steal, they murder a woman and are later caught by her neighbors. Two of the burglars are shot and killed. The third one manages to escape but is still trapped inside La Zona. So the manhunt begins for this burglar whom we later learn more about. This film's message, ideas and originality make it worth watching.

The director, Rodrigo Pla, does a great job as he shows how people change and act in times of fear and terror. The members of the community become very scared and alarmed when they realize that one of the burglars is still inside the premises. In times of fear and confusion people lose trust and turn against each other.


The film succeeds in portraying a real and present time Mexico -- a Mexico that is inundated with corruption and crime. In this film you can see what the country is really like and how business is handled. When thinking critically of the film, I realized that La Zona is very similar to the United States in the present time of war and terror. Fear and confusion have also grown in the U.S. after 9/11. People have become scared and alarmed. Some have lost trust in the Government and also turned against each other as they believe that the "enemy" is within us, just like in the movie. I feel that the U.S., like La Zona , is slowly isolating itself from the outside world. The fear pressed on its citizens by the government have made it a country that doesn't welcome people anymore as it used to before 9/11 -- a country that is gradually becoming more hostile and violent. La Zona is a great movie to go see. It is very real and relevant.

The San Diego Latino Film Festival was a great experience. It was my first time attending and I had the honor to meet, Julio Bracho, a well known Mexican actor. I had the opportunity to speak to him about the festival and his thoughts about the Latino Community.

"The Latino Film Festival permeates the Latino Community with its ideas as well as those who want to learn more about the culture," Julio Bracho said as he signed many autographs. The festival had many works of art displayed that were created by Latino artists. At the festival you have the chance to meet with some of the actors and directors in the movies showcased. It was a great opportunity to learn about movies being made outside the U.S. Instead of going to your regular movie theatre, consider going to the Latino Film Festival and experience a film from a different point of view. 

  -- Carlos Sepulveda is a senior currently attending Mount Miguel High. Carlos enjoys reading in his spare time and running. He is most interested in history, politics and world issues. Carlos likes to watch foreign films, comedies and dramas.

Claire Anne Hsu
March 10, 2008 at 03:03 AM
I found the review very interesting. It gave me a feeling for mexico City and I enjoyed the comments about the film festival. La Zona is a film i will put on my list of movies to see. Thank you. Claire


Steve Futternan from Imperial Beach
March 10, 2008 at 03:24 AM
I haven't seen La Zona yet however after reading Mr. Sepulveda's article I'm intrigued by his comparison of how the American experience was altered after 9/11. It is true that the extremes in Mexico City are disturbing however after visting the city two years ago I was equally impressed by it's possibilities. Mr. Sepulveda's observation correctly points out that Mexico's elite works very hard specificaly in neighborhoods like the citys Zona Rosa to isolate themslves from the estreme poverty that many of its residents must endure. The fact that film director Rodrigo Pla is able to make this film shows that their are artists willing to address the issue, and that Mexican society has evolved enough to start confronting these themes by not censoring it. I believe that through films like La Zona a new generation of Mexicans will look at the conduct of their parents and their denial of the lives their fellow contryman are forced to endure. I am also confident that a new generation of young Americans will look back at their parents conduct at home and in the world after 9/11 and ask, "was that really us?"

shane flores from san diego
March 10, 2008 at 03:33 PM
i was going to skip this film, not having been particularly moved by the program description, but after reading this review its going ot somewhere near the top of the "must see" list.

Margaret Crabtree from Lemon Grove
March 10, 2008 at 04:06 PM
I am very much looking forward to seeing this La Zona. It is hard to believe as a high school student, Carlos has such a clear and concise viewpoint, as well as an insightful look at what we are reading and hearing in the news. This is especially true as violent acts continue, not only in Mexico, but across the globe. His commentary is mirrored in the choice many people make by living in gated communities and grounded in Carlos' ability to connect this violent trend in the movie, to the U.S. experience of 911. His analysis also validates the powerful commentary and issues expressed within the context of San Diego's own Latino Film Festival. Thanks Carols, I look forward to your next review!

Carlos Sepulveda from San Diego
March 10, 2008 at 06:39 PM
Mr. Futternan I thank you for the feed-back on the review and your great understanding of Mexico and the society. I think that the ending of the film will back up your idea of the U.S. looking back at these times. "Was that really us?" thanks. Carlos

Carlos Sepulveda from San Diego
March 10, 2008 at 06:53 PM
Ms. Crabtree Thank you for your great feed-back on my writing. I agree with your point of view on violence around the globe and in the U.S. Thanks. Carlos