Atenco review

:. Director: Klamve Colectivo
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 1:10
:. Year: 2007
:. Country: Mexico


Easily the most underground piece of filmmaking at AFI FEST 2007. As a documentary film, Atenco, A Crime of State is a failure. But as a document of an uprising in Mexico in 2006 and of police brutality and violence, it serves as proof that this happened and that it won't be forgotten.

Lefties up to speed on Mexican politics who read papers such as La Jornada and know about La Otra CampaƱa will have the upper hand in watching this documentary. Those who come wanting to learn will have a hard time following Atenco, A Crime of State. During Vicente Fox's presidency one of his grand plans was to build a new airport in Atenco, whereby peasants would be compensated for the appropriation of their land. They revolted, took to the streets of Mexico City with machetes, and Fox's government backed down. Flash forward to May of 2006. In nearby Texcoco police went after flower vendors at a downtown market. The idea was to peacefully protest government policy. This time, however, villagers were besieged by thousands of police who took this to be another rebellion and acted accordingly. People were beaten, raped, jailed and two were killed. Atenco, A Crime of State is a compilation of footage from May 3 & 4 that shows meetings breaking down, violence in the streets, and emotional interviews with victims of police violence. Some of the experiences were absolutely horrifying and at times it's difficult to believe that this happened only a year or so ago.

Unfortunately, the documentary fails to connect the dots and to give a basic explanation of places and happenings within a chronological timeline. At the beginning of the documentary about 10 minutes was used to explain the airport protest and it looked and felt totally different from the rest of the footage we saw. After the screening, the editors explained they had attached those scenes from another documentary and added them here to give people a background. Unfortunately, even more time was spent trying to explain why that footage was included. This documentary can and must be edited for clarity.

People involved in leading the protests were jailed for terms of 60 years or more. People who were raped and tortured will probably not see their cases come to justice anytime soon. What Klamve Colectivo filmed was risky and as a living, breathing document Atenco, A Crime of State may be viewed on Youtube. The filmmakers present at the screening also gave out copies of their documentary for people to share with others- the sense of urgency is palpable.

  Anji Milanovic

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