This Duke Screen/ Society selection has an interesting pedigree: It was funded largely by the Mexican government and released this September, in time for that country's bicentennial celebration. Its topic is the infernal drug trade that has made parts of the nation, particularly in the north, a leading candidate for Hell on Earth designation. Judging by the trailer, El Infierno looks hip, stylish and spectacularly violent, with beheadings, copious gunplay and dunkings in vats of acid.
Whatever the horrors dreamed up by Luis Estrada, who produced, directed and (with Jaime Sampietro) wrote the screenplay, he'll have a hard time matching the Dantean nightmare that's actually afflicting the country. Last month, for example, in a small coastal town near Mexico City, masked men dumped 35 bodies on a busy street in broad daylight. In all, over 40,000 Mexicans have died in violence connected to the drug trade just since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon vowed to smash the cartels. Though the events across the Southern border seem far away, it's important to remember that the troubles there are for the most part outsourced by the United States.
The screening will be followed by a discussion. (The Screen/Society website, ami.duke.edu/events, warns that the group is not yet certain it'll be able to secure a print; check the site to see whether a substitution has been made.) —Marc Maximov