The shimmering fantasia of Joshua Gil’s Sanctorum elides easy categorization. Ostensibly this is a kind of narco-drama, a portrait of a family’s struggle against cartel and military oppression, but familiar tropes of social realism soon submit to a less earthbound notion of reality.  Our protagonist is a young boy whose mother, a marijuana farmer, goes missing. He embarks on a grief-stricken journey into the forest to make a metaphysical appeal to magic and nature. The consequences are both cinematically rich and metaphorically loaded. Special mention must go to the sound design, created by Sergio Diaz (Roma) over the course of a year. It’s a dense tapestry, ripe with spectral acoustics and abstract allusions to incipient violence. We never quite forget what violence is: it lurks intractably at the periphery, but this sensual fable ultimately suggests a hopeful future that exists beyond the limits of this cold reality.

Review by:   Jim Kolmar



Joshua Gil | Puebla, 1977

Joshua Gil has a degree in communication from the Universidad Iberoamericana and a master’s degree in cinematography at the Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya. In addition, he was a student of Patricio Guzmán at the Professional Documentary Film Seminar in Barcelona, Spain. He worked in the production of Japón (2000) by Carlos Reygadas. In 2015, he produced and directed his fiction debut opera entitled La Maldad, premiered at the Berlinale. Sanctorum is his second movie.

Screenplay: Joshua Gil
Producer: Marion d’Ornano, Laura Imperiale, Carlos Sosa, Joshua Gil
Production Company: Parábola Cine, Viento del Norte Cine, Viento del Norte Cine, Telegrama Audiovisual
Cinematography: Mateo Guzmán, Joshua Gil
Edition: León Felipe González, Joshua Gil, Yibrán Asuad
Music: Galo Durán, Hilario Herrera
Sound: Serio Díaz
Cast: Erwin Antonio Pérez Jiménez, Nereyda Pérez Vásquez, Javier Bautista González, Damián D. Martínez