Red Dawn (Rojo Amanecer)

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Banned officially under the last administration, Rojo Amanecer has recently been approved by the Mexican government for commercial release. Its controversial subject matter, tightly focused script and low-key, realistic acting have audiences lining up in Mexico City to see the film everyone is talking about. Long after the lights come up, audience members sit stunned and silent.

Rojo Amanecer is Mexico's first fiction film to deal with the massacre of more than four hundred students by the Mexican army at the Three Cultures Plaza on October 2, 1968. With the Olympic games set to open within a few weeks, the government sought to quell civil unrest through harsh military action. More than twenty years later, the subject is still a touchy one.

Rather than recreate the massacre, the story line centers on the life of one family – a mother, father, four kids and grandfather – who live in the Tlatelolco Housing complex overlooking the plaza. Since the film's action is restricted to the confined space of their apartment, the family seems trapped into the drama around them, like caged animals. As outside events threaten to intrude, a claustrophic tension builds.

It is to the credit of co-producer Valentin Trujillo that this film was made. Rojo Amanecer, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1990 San Sebastian Film Festival, is a perfect vehicle to mark the return of long-absent director Jorge Fons, one of Mexico's major political filmmakers of the generation of '68.

— Paul Lenti

Screening Details

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