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In her accomplished fifth feature, Mexican filmmaker Yulene Olaizola immerses the viewer in a richly drawn, tactile experience that works as both a gripping adventure and a contemplative rumination on the brutality and splendor of nature. Set in the 1920s in the deep thickets of a Mayan tropical rainforest along the Rio Hondo—then the border between Mexico and British Honduras, now Belize—Tragic Jungle follows Agnes (Indira Andrewin), a young woman trying desperately to escape with her sister from the white British landowner she doesn’t want to marry. With the man armed and on her trail, she barely gets away, and is discovered by a troupe of chicleros—gum tree workers—who become both her rescuers and captors. Vibrantly shot by cinematographer Sofia Oggioni, Olaizola’s film becomes an entirely unexpected story of myth and superstition, in which the jungle itself seems like a living being, taking natural revenge on the men whose petty inhumanities bloody its trunks and vines.
Special thanks to Cultural Services of the French Embassy.