Hidden River (Río Escondido)

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


This intense and highly focused film begins when Ana discovers a letter containing a boy’s drawing and a thank-you note for money sent: surely the sign of a relationship which her husband, Luis, has kept hidden from her. Warned by her mother that it is sometimes better not to know, and by her girlfriend to be careful because things can have different meanings, she still sets out on a difficult journey to the rural village of Rio Escondido. There she encounters an unexpected truth: Luis has a brother, Martin, a prisoner on parole, and he is the father of the boy.

Secretly following Martin in her truck, Ana offers him a ride back to prison. She strikes up a laconic, voyeuristic conversation but never reveals her identity. Through this small tear in the fabric of fate, a high-voltage emotional charge begins to flow, expressed in the quick looks and carefully chosen words which punctuate the hum of tires on the road. As they travel through mile upon mile of desolate winter scenery, Ana discovers in Martin what she realizes is absent in Luis: warmth, gentleness, interest, communication, a past. It is from this point on that Hidden River runs deepest, as Ana struggles to reconcile the old and the new.

Through spare dialogue, a restrained and emotionally taut performance, and a forceful, poetic pattern of images, director Mercedes Garcia Guevara evokes a woman’s innermost struggles from a woman’s point of view in her first feature film. Hidden River is a superbly conceived and executed study of the human heart.

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details


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