Gerardo Naranjo and Stephanie Sigman on the red carpet opening night of NYFF. Photo by Anna Karadimas.

After selling out two screenings at the New York Film Festival, Miss Bala opens in select theaters today. A stunning, bracingly original work from Mexico, the film follows a young middle-class woman (a flawless Stephanie Sigman) whose dreams of being a beauty queen ominously begin to intertwine with the whims of a local drug baron. A veteran of the Cannes and Toronto film festivals, the film is a sober but very personal view of contemporary life in Mexican border towns.

At an NYFF press conference, director Gerardo Naranjo said he conceived of the film as a response to how the drug war in Mexico often becomes a caricature on film. “There’s a lot of comedies being done in Mexico about the crime,” he said. “They portray the criminals in a cool way… It's all about the drugs, the girls, the gold chains. I was angry.” His movie challenges that narrative: “There was a great opportunity to talk about what I felt was closer to reality.” 

Watch the full press conference below:  

And check out the trailer for the film, which opened today in NYC & LA: