Film Scouts and Newsweek at Sundance 1999

Santitos

Following an auspicious production career dedicated to supporting some of Mexico's brightest young talents (including Guillermo del Toro and Antonio Urrutia), Alejandro Springall effortlessly shifts to the director's seat in this bravura feature debut. With its accomplished writing, dynamic cast led by Dolores Heredia, and superb production team, Santitos is a beautifully conceived and executed account of love, loss, and the devotion that bridges despair.

In this fanciful and sophisticated blend of romanticism and magical realism, Springall charts the spirited and passionate odyssey of Esperanza Diaz, a young widow recently confronted with the news of her only daughter's death. Amidst a culture saturated with tele-novela style melodrama and a fervent, unquestioning approach to faith, Esperanza supplants her grief with superstition, stoically awaiting a sign to refute the reality of her daughter's passing.

Though even Esperanza thinks it a trifle odd, her prayers summon a favorite local saint, who appears unexpectedly in the grimy, glazed window of her oven. Heeding his cryptic instructions, Esperanza decides to seek her daughter in a brothel known only as the Pink House and leaves the security of the provinces for the seedy fringes of Tijuana and beyond. What follows is a litany of experiences both precarious and bizarre, a series of tests that will ultimately redefine her faith and destiny.

Though principally a love story, Santitos is also a wonderfully deft and gentle-hearted parody of dramatic excess and naive superstition in Latin culture. What emerges is a rapturous collision of the mystical and mundane.

- Rebecca Yeldham

Directed by: Alejandro Springall
Written by: María Amparo Escandón
Starring: Dolores Heredia, Demián Bichir, Alberto Estrella
Produced by: Alejandro Springall


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