Arteaga sits with many of the survivors telling one horror story after another in what could be best described as a modern-day Holocaust. One prominent figure is a gentleman born of Mexican and Jewish parents. He was shunned by his community all his life for being bi-racial, yet his genetic heritage brings a unique insight into the subject matter.
As the story unfolds, the events are heartbreaking. Several mothers talk about the disappearance of their sons and daughters. One mother goes as far as to confront her Congressman, demanding to know where her son is, and the outcome will anger you. It was clear that no one cared what would happen to Guadalupe, except the media, but even they were afraid of the backlash.
Why did the Mexican government allow this to happen? Many survivors speculate, and their theory is absolutely frightening, yet plausible, and best left for the film to explain.
“…does stellar work…with brilliant, yet haunting, images of the innocent victims, the valley’s landscape, and the destruction of this once vibrant city.”
Lastly, The Guardian of Memory touches upon the subject of political asylum. Even in a pre-Trump America, the asylum process seemed unfair and particularly brutal. Many of the town’s survivors applied for political asylum, to the point that the Mexican army had to escort many to the border to prove that even the military could not protect them. Each person awaiting their asylum hearings were locked up in detention centers, and most petitions were denied.
If there is a negative to the film, there are so many stories from different individuals. It isn’t easy to know who is talking, and when one story ends, and another begins. Although it’s confusing, overall, it is manageable.
The Guardian of Memory literally tells the story of a town of survivors, who witnessed the murder of their friends and family and the ensuing national cover-up. Hunted by their home country and treated like prisoners across the border, their stories had to be told. Yes, the film is 100% talking head interviews. Still, director Arteaga and director of photography Axel Pedraza do stellar work cutting video with brilliant, yet haunting, images of the innocent victims, the valley’s landscape, and the destruction of this once vibrant city. What we wish was mere fiction is painfully real, and we tell these stories praying they’ll never happen again.