The Passion of María Elena

Institute History


When her young son is killed by a hit-and-run driver, the title character of Mercedes Moncada's The Passion of María Elena returns from her home in the city of Chihuahua to rural Sierra Tarahumara and the people she came from: the Raramuri. But this is no travelogue-in-mourning; it's more like a spiritual journey.

The Passion of María Elena tells a story of grief and healing, injustice and cultural identity, using striking visual language and techniques that reflect the circular nature of Raramuri logic and thought: hence, the film's concentric structure, its reflective sense, and the feeling that the storytelling is organically in tune with the people, personalities, and processes that lead Maria Elena from one stage of her life into a new and entirely different one.

The Passion of María Elena is elusive in the best sense, offering up no easy narrative doorways or paths to knowing its characters or their world. Perhaps the most critical aspect of the film is the way in which it informs its audiences how many ways there are to think, and view the world, and interpret aspects of it that, in the abstract, are simply inconceivable.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

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