TIFF Review: Comala

Father and son

We seem, as humans, to have an intrinsic desire to understand our roots. To know where we come from and to try and frame our existence in the context of our forefathers. This is particularly the case when it comes to our parents. The Mexican drug war has impacted families across the country and beyond. The violence and killings have, in a way, seeped into the consciousness of a nation constantly licking its wounds.

Filmmaker Gian Cassini was raised in Monterrey by a single mother and only had very fleeting contact with his father. When the news broke of his killing, now a small-time hitman in Tijani called El Jimmy, it triggered a search for answers. His journey uncovers a history of violence dating back to fighting in the Cuban revolution and working for the CIA. Not to mention a whole other family with their own history. This is documented in Comala.

Comala is an investigative documentary which takes Gian on a voyage into a murky past and complex present in order to try and understand his father and why violence has played a major role in the lives of his family. This is grass roots nuts and bolts filmmaking. Connecting the dots in order to try and build up a bigger picture of trauma and brutality. By focusing on the detail and those personal stories, Comala allows its audience to truly get a sense of what life must be like for many.

Comala screens at Toronto International Film Festival.

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