After his only son is murdered in the Mexican drug war, a mystic poet launches an international crusade to save his country.
Directed by Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega
Produced by Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Nefertiti Kelley Farias
Editor: Ken Schneider
Original Music: William Ryan Fritch, Nathan Halpern
Associate Producers: Diego Luna, Pablo Cruz
Co-Producer: Becky Korman
Executive Producer: Chana Ben-Dov
Executive Producer for LPB: Sandie Viquez Pedlow
A co-production of Loteria Films and Latino Public Broadcasting with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
EL POETA tells the story of renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who ignited mass protests and an ongoing movement for peace after the brutal murder of his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco - collateral damage in a drug war that has left 60,000+ dead since 2006 - the majority civilians.
"A powerful testament to the human tragedy [of] the 'War on Drugs,' but also to the hope that sometimes appears in the midst of violence." Dr. Angelica Duran-Martinez, Asst Prof, Political Science, UMass-Lowell
Drawing on the philosophical, artistic and spiritual dimensions of Sicilia and his movement, EL POETA reinterprets the "hard news" horror story of the Mexican drug war as a deeply personal, poetic and at times even hopeful one, tracing Sicilia's path from poet and father to movement leader and international symbol of grief and redemption.
Other films made by the producers include the multi-award winning Better This World and Monumental: David Brower's Fight for Wild America.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2016
Copyright Date: 2015
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-546-7
"The 2006 Mexican 'War on Drugs' has wreaked havoc on the country. El Poeta is a tragic but enlightening documentary that illustrates the human cost of the conflict. It is an accessible and impactful film that would be invaluable in classes concerned with Latin America, drug issues, social problems, and political conflict."
Dr. Howard Campbell, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, Author, Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juarez
"Compelling...What Sicilia does, and this film powerfully captures, is to translate the facts into a moving portrayal of human tragedy and the opportunity to reclaim a country captured by vested interests of criminals and politicians. The poet's vision of life as an endeavor in which poetry, politics, and religiosity are permeated by a powerful ethical and spiritual dimension, is the basis of a call, then transformed into a movement, to restore Mexico as a country where people have hopes and dreams."
Mabel González Bustelo, Global Policy Journal
"Powerful film. Accurately reflects the past and ongoing violence...The film provides a 360 degree view on the various components of the war on drugs, both south and north of the border. I can see using this film in class to expose students to the reality of drugs, the war on drugs, the social contract and criminal justice, and the impact on society."
Dr. Darren Gil, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Southern University at New Orleans, Former Attaché, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. Embassy in Mexico City
"Balanced, educational and inspiring for our students who wish to make a difference. Breaking the myths of Mexico's war on drugs, El Poeta shows with accuracy the complexity of a conflict that crosses borders and inspired a 'movement of victims.' Not the end, but the beginning of a path towards 'peace with justice and dignity.'"
Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Security Studies, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
"It is important that people understand the suffering and pain caused by the Drug War, and the way struggle unites us transnationally to end the misery...El Poeta permits us to re-embark upon truth's journey. It is a journey to understand the transcendental meaning of justice as an ideal to be strived for in the name of the oppressed, of the victims."
Andrew Smolski, Counterpunch
"With sonorous voice and palpable despair, Sicilia turned his grief into action...El Poeta is, at its heart, a moving profile of a charismatic person on a mission."
Rosemary Arneson, Library Journal
"El Poeta is powerful and moving, and it offers a window into the suffering of the drug war's living casualties - those left to grieve the deaths or disappearances of their loved ones."
Isaac Campos, Professor of History, University of Cincinnati, Author, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs
"Affecting...The film bears a closing dedication to the 43 student activists slain last year in the Mexican state of Guerrero. This is in some respects an inspirational story about the failure to be heard."
Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times
"A powerfully spiritual film about a nation struggling through its darkest hour. Sicilia transforms the agony of his son's senseless murder into a light that shines into Mexico's very soul. This is a film about the hope of ending the madness that has descended on the great nation of Mexico."
Dr. Ricardo Ainslie, Psychoanalyst and Professor, Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, Author, The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War
include SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and scene selection.
Awards and Festivals
National PBS Broadcast on Latino Public Broadcasting's "Voces"
United Nations Association Film Festival
Citizenship and Civics
Latin American Studies
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... more Reviews
"El Poeta tells the story of the man who gave a voice to the thousands of victims who have been struggling for justice in Mexico. It's a powerful testament to the human tragedy that often surrounds the 'War on Drugs,' but also to the hope that sometimes appears in the midst of violence."
Dr. Angelica Duran-Martinez, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts-Lowell