Written by: Matt Patti | March 16th, 2021
Luchadoras (Paola Calvo/Patrick Jasim, 2021) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Located just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, an infamous, threatening city with high murder rates of women, who live in constant fear of getting killed, having to be cautious every day even when simply walking home from work. However, one group of women are standing up and speaking out against misogyny and violence. These are the Luchadoras, female wrestlers that fight both inside the ring and outside of it to challenge the perceptions of what it means to be a woman in Mexico. Directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim feature the stories of three of these women wrestlers in their documentary, Luchadoras, and their efforts to fight against the sexist, machismo-filled atmosphere of the city and inspire others to do the same.
The film succeeds at bringing to light the harsh landscape of Ciudad Juárez and how terrifying it is to live in such a place where women are at a high risk of harm. It’s inspiring to see the Luchadoras fight back against the evils of their home city, unafraid. The Luchadoras dedicate their time and hard-earned money to put on a show for women of all ages to give them someone to root for and show them to be brave. However, they also enjoy wrestling for the sport of it, as well, with some of them hoping to eventually become professionals. The documentary also explores the personal struggles and unfortunate circumstances these women have to deal with, as well as their hopes and dreams that they hope to achieve one day.
The film attempts to tackle many issues facing women in Mexico today. In doing this, though, it glosses over some a bit too quickly and veers into left field at some points. It is also a bit difficult to keep track of the characters, as they explore a decent amount of people and sometimes it gets confusing in regards to where they all fit into the picture. Unfortunately, the cinematography of the documentary is not as good as it could be, with some shots looking as if they were from an amateur YouTube video. However, this may be done on purpose, as it does help achieve a gritty, real look and feel.
Overall, Luchadoras is a fascinating look into the lives of courageous women fighting an impressive battle against a violent society. The subjects are easy to root for and sympathize with, and the film makes the audience become fans of theirs. We long to see these women achieve their dreams and know they deserve it. The film also peels back the layers on violence against women, the dangers of a patriarchy, and the experiences that women all around the world go through, only amplified in Ciudad Juarez. It is my sincere hope that after viewing this film, people will more clearly understand the intense struggles that women have in many parts of the world and the courage that it takes for women like the Luchadoras to fight back.
[The 2021 SXSW Film Festival runs March 16-20.]