I keep thinking about this film. Like Mediterranea, it is about a current crisis and it seems impossible that this could be happening and nothing can be done about it.
Set in Tijuana in Mexico, we see Ulises, sweet, maybe 17 years old, dating Sofia, an engaging 14 year old. They sleep together, talk, ride bikes, do all the things that teenagers in love do. Then he takes her home to meet his family and it is a picture of domestic normality, his dad is celebrating a birthday, his brother arrives with his wife and baby, his mother cuts the cake. What we don’t know, is that Ulises is part of a family that entices young women with romance, separates them from their family, and then imprisons them in brothels, forcing them into slavery. Sofia is Ulises’s first.
The reality of this film is chilling. There are whole towns in Mexico that thrive on this industry – neighbours turn a blind eye, police support it. Some women and girls are trucked to the US to work, children are held hostage by the families of pimps, the women are given none of the hundreds of dollars they earn each day. These towns are lined with mansions, funded by this booming industry, and recent government efforts to crackdown have made little difference.
There were some powerful scenes in this film. The depiction of Sofia’s first day working is exquisitely done, showing nothing but telling you everything. We feel the isolation of everyone but these formidable men.
For Sofia, there seems some hope. Ulises loves her and his father promises to let Sofia out if he brings in another girl. Watching the process a second time is heart breaking and we can see that this is a problem without a solution. For every girl who might be freed, there will be an endless number to replace her.