Going into this SXSW viewing of “LUCHADORAS” and expecting it to be just about some female wrestlers is probably the biggest misconception someone can make about this film from Directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim, including myself.
This fascinating look at not only female wrestlers of Cuidad Juárez, Mexico but all the women of the city. Focusing specifically the stories of four woman – Lady Candy, Baby Star, Little Star and Mini Sirenita who yes, while they are female wrestlers are also so much more. For those who might not be aware, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, has a reputation for being the most dangerous city in the world while just across the border is El Paso, TX, said to be the safest city in the world. This stark fact is made clear when we see one of the women, Lady Candy, fighting to get her two children back after her husband has taken them over to El Paso – and stops contact with her. We watch as she attempts to get a visa just to visit them, but cost is a factor. She makes $300 a month and the cost of just the visa alone is $160. But going back to the beginning to make this clear from the start. The film begins with voiceover telling us a story about a woman riding the bus to work in one of the factories in the industrial part of the city who was abducted, beaten, and assaulted by the driver. Luckily, she survived to tell her story but it is soon after that we start to find out the true stories of the almost 100 missing women of Juarez. Any of our four women could be one of them, or even the next one as we delve into each of their varying stories of abuse and how of all things, wrestling is what letting them reclaim their power so to speak.
Again, the stories vary here from Lady Candy’s, to Mini Sirenita who is returning to the ring after a hiatus working in a factory so that she can afford to help her adult daughter living in Mexico City because wrestling pays more. In a completely different vein, we have Baby Star and Little Star. These two sisters, who never remove their masks even in daily life, are trying to figure out the best way to honor their family wrestling legacy while setting an example for Baby’s young daughter who of course, wants to be just like her mom. What Calvo and Jasim do so well here is highlight the every day normalcy of these women’s lives outside of the ring, providing us an inside glimpse at their personas, their fears, and their dreams. But also giving focus to the everyday struggles and the fight from not only these four women, but the many women of Juarez who get out there and stand up and fight for not only themselves and their families, but for the rights of all the murdered women of Juarez. Putting it straight up – these women are more than just wrestlers, they are mothers, daughters, sisters and women standing up for themselves at a time when doing so, can get them killed.
“Luchadores” is raw and defiant, tension filled, yet also filmed with love as you can see each women’s story for what it truly is. And it is beautifully filmed showing every crack and emotion of feelings from joy, to sadness, anger and most of all, inner strength. This is so much more than just a female wrestling movie and I hope more people than just myself take the time to find this out.
I stand with the women of Juarez – and so should we all.
Review Screening courtesy of Ryan Bruce Levey film distribution and PR services & SXSW Film Festival