Canoa: A Shameful Memory

Director: Felipe Cazals
Year Released: 1976
Rating: 1.5

Bubbly college students (actually: sacrificial sheep) go to the town of San Miguel Canoa to climb La Malinche, but are brutally beaten by the (mostly) illiterate town people, who are convinced by a corrupt priest that these visitors are actually Communists. The combination of fictional filmmaking and 'documentary' gives it an unnatural, sometimes amateurish feel - it reminds me more of Gualtiero Jacopetti's silly Mondo Cane pictures than, say, the best political movies by Costa-Gavras - and the fact that the Mexican government helped fund it (the Army turns out to be the heroes) goes against its "revolutionary" reputation. According to their commentary on the Criterion release, both Alfonso CuarĂ³n and Guillermo del Toro hold it in high regard, so it could be the case of a film being more valued for its importance to Mexican cinema culture and less for its aesthetics/storytelling.