Tropic of Cancer

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


It begins like a dream, flush with exotic colors and sounds, so isolated and silent it could mark the beginning of time. It gives and takes and then becomes like a nightmare, lending harsh testimony to the realities of survival. It lies at a latitude 23.5° north of the equator and is known as the Tropic of Cancer. It's also a passionate documentary the likes of which you have probably never seen.

In the arid desert landscape of central Mexico, poor families make their endless rounds checking animal traps while risking intense sun, cacti, and poisonous snakes in the desperate chase for rats, turtles, insects, and an atrium of birds. Primitive hunting is now the only way to eat in the modern world.

Challenged by poverty but responding with dignity and grace, locals sell unwanted flora and fauna at a roadside zoo to passengers racing down the highway. Children beg for pesos in the dusty gravel while elders bargain with curious visitors looking for a new pet or souvenir. And at the intersection of the Third World and the middle class, your heart drops with the exchange rate.

Filmmaker Eugenio Polgovsky Ezcurra uses trusted access and a unique, visually driven style to share this story of haunting resonance. Far from being muffled, the result of this daring, quiet film is more like a primal scream.

— Joseph Beyer

Screening Details

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