IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF LUCHADORAS!
This year’s SXSW Film Festival lineup holds a lot of surprises, especially when we sometimes are a bit lost in where to start. It is amazing how many new directors are emerging through the ranks and cracks of this new way to enjoy a festival. One film that could easily raise a few eyebrows at first glance is Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim‘s documentary feature Luchadoras, which focuses on several women who are Lucha Libre fighters and their daily struggles to survive in the violent Ciudad Juárez, famous for its high rate of feminicide. We meet Lady Candy, a singler mother deprived of seeing her two daughters after her abusing husband took them away to the United States; Mini Serinita, who dreams of becoming a full time luchadora and leave her job in a factory that lies in the center of a well-known women murdering place; and Baby Star, who is trying to raise her daughter alone while wrestling constantly to ensure a future for her. These are the fighters that, with or without a mask, stand up to the oppressive machismo that lurks in their hometown.
Luchadoras is an incredible masterpiece. An achievement that brings us closer to these characters by intense close-ups and spontaneous inspiration by their daily efforts to fight against the injustices that surround their environment. The humbleness and raw emotion to which the viewers are pulled while following these women’s lives is a work that, not only resonates to the female community in Mexico, but also to the world outside its borders who needs to hear these stories to take action. Being a luchadora is not just an ideal and a lifestyle; it’s the physical expression of how powerful womanhood is. In Juárez, a large portion of the male population still believe women are weaker, expendable and devoid of basic human rights, and as we follow Lady Candy, Mini Serinita and Baby Star, we can only advise these men to better watch their backs! These ladies are ruthless, strong and sure know how to defend themselves! Luchadoras is an empowering film that takes advantage of this concept and never takes it to a satirical side, making it more genuine and personal. By exploring the love for the ring, the film sets up a premise that is as strong as its leading ladies, and never slows down in showing other parts of their lives where they need to be even stronger.
Lady Candy, Mini Serinita and Baby Star are devoted mothers and never neglect that part of their lives in their daily routines; in fact, it’s what drives them to become Lucha Libre professionals. Luchadoras is a brave, inspirational and outstanding love letter to all these women who still manage to survive the hardships of a city that treats them like they are animals at the bottom of the chain. Calvo and Jasim’s direction is superb, and their close-up style projects us to the middle of the action as if we are part of it too, absorving the viewer with their subjects and knowing exactly where to change the scenarios so every single one of the ladies has an equal amount of time. By doing so, Luchadoras rises as a champion. A magnificent cinematic achievement that will punch you in the heart, kick you in the gut and force you to surrender to its charms. These women show how a society is not defined by gender, but ultimately by the strength of sticking up against the bullies who think of themselves as the leaders of others’ lives. By the end, we see all the Luchadoras that have survived and are still ready to kick the patriarchy in the bum, and one can only feel empowered to stay close at their side and root for them.
A film that can tell a story without losing focus on its mission and never tries to polish its subjects with superficial drama is one that defies the norms of art. At first sight, Luchadoras may seem like a Nacho Libre female rip-off, but take your minds from that, because you are in for an extraordinary human journey of some of the most badass ladies you will ever meet on screen!
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Title: Female Fighters
Original Title: Luchadoras
Runtime: 93 min.
Trailer | Luchadoras