A forensic anthropologist recovering the bones of people killed during Guatemala’s dark civil war believes he may have found his father’s remains in this heartfelt drama which surprised with the Camera d’Or win at Cannes 2019. Ernesto meets Nicolasa (Aurelia Caal), a Mayan woman whose husband was tortured and killed in 1982 for giving food to rebels.
Herself a victim of rape by the same soldiers who murdered her husband, she’s hoping the forensics expert will be able to recover bones in a mass grave in the mountains. The case takes on extra meaning when Nicolasa identifies a rebel leader in a photograph with her husband, and Ernesto recognizes the man as his father, one of the thousands of guerrilla fighters whose exact fate was never known.
Suddenly locating the bones becomes even more compelling given that his mother, Cristina (Emma Dib), is about to testify at a trial of former soldiers involved in the civil war. Díaz’s debut may be one of the few fiction features to look at the horrors of the genocide perpetrated by the U.S.-backed military against the indigenous population.