They Made us the Night (2021) CPH:DOX 2022

March 24th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Antonio Hernandez | Doc, with the Salinas Tellos | Mexico, 66′

Stories from Latin America continue to entrance not least this dreamy wonderful work of art marked by its lush tropical settings and fluid camerawork. It follows a Mexican family through their everyday life to reestablish themselves in Oaxaca on the Pacific Ocean after their lives were destroyed by Cyclone Dolores back in 1974. 

Animals are as much part of these people’s life as their fellow humans. And the Salinas Tello family are no different. We see young son Adonis talking to their livestock and pets and even riding the billy goat. Catholic by religion the Salinas Tello are Afro-Mestizo, a mixture of African, Native and European, and are fiercely proud of maintaining their identity through oral traditions involving bouts of intense communication, singing and chanting marked by ‘tonales’ (animal spirit links), devils and cyclones all in Spanish, their native language . Preparations are underway for a patronal celebration in the village, and, inevitably the family pig is slaughtered. Adonis asks questions but strangely gets few answers on this occasion. The band starts rehearsals complete with hornets, trombones and other wind and percussion instruments along with exotic costumes and bizarre masks drawing on local myths and folklore.

Antonio Hernandez achieves a perfect balance between Alonso Maranon’s sumptuous visuals, an exotic and often sinister soundscape created by Luis Ortega, along with the endless discussions to convey the togetherness of this cohesive, tight knit community where voluble dialogue seems to be the key to survival and wellbeing. MT



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