In the Pit

Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo
Screenwriters: Juan Carlos Rulfo


The meaning of a freeway seems straightforward enough: it accommodates movement from place to place. But seldom do we notice the elusive energies that permeate such structures. In his breathtaking new documentary, Juan Carlos Rulfo bridges the chasm between the seen and the unseen, creating a moving social document and a monumental cinematic achievement in itself.

In Mexico City, a second layer is being built atop the Periférico freeway, which inscribes a massive circle on the metropolis. Despite the project's enormity, the workers who are building the freeway are barely noticed by drivers who roll by endlessly. Rulfo's film places us among these workers and their milieu. Amid the cacophonous sounds of the street (resourcefully remixed into a protonaturalistic musical score), the film chronicles long days of arduous work, risk taking, joking, swearing, and philosophizing—rendering its subjects palpable and dimensional by virtue of perceptiveness as much as craft. The freeway itself, visible only in hulking partial shapes for most of the film, becomes a formidable psychological fact, absorbing the labor and even the lives of its makers. As "Shorty," "El Grande," and others describe their lives, struggles, and beliefs, Rulfo's eye for detail and instinct for the uncanny effectively make his subjects messengers of the unconscious and spokespeople for all human striving.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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