Miss Bala: The Beauty Queen and the Drug Lord
Friday, February 03, 2012
In Mexico’s drug war, nearly 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed since 2006, and there seems to be no end in sight. A new film called Miss Bala is an artful, riveting depiction of that war, and it isn’t the good guys-bad guys shoot-em-up you might expect.
Instead, the story is told through the eyes of an innocent bystander: a beauty pageant contestant who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’s kidnapped by a gang leader and has no choice but to become his accomplice.
Making a realistic film about drug gangs is a dangerous venture. “When we shot the film we said it was a romantic comedy,” says the film’s co-writer and director, Gerardo Naranjo. “It had a different name, Beautiful Maria.” In the wake of the film’s release, Naranjo is staying in the United States.
Only “in a country where the law and justice work in such mysterious ways, [can] those two worlds join together — the world of criminality and the world of beauty queens,” Naranjo tells Kurt Andersen. The idea is based on a true story of a beauty queen arrested with a group of suspected gang members, and later released without charges. It’s an example of how all of Mexican society is being pulled into the conflict. “There is no social institution which will survive the power of the criminals. The movie has a theory: there are no good guys anymore. Even if you are good, you can’t rebel against this power."
Video: A scene from Miss Bala