By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 23, 2011 at 2:21AM
If you've had your ear to the ground over the past few months you'd know that one film building a considerable amount of very well-deserved buzz is Gerardo Naranjo's "Miss Bala." Premiering this spring at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, the film wowed critics and audiences alike and has been gaining traction ever since. It was a hot ticket at TIFF just a week or so back, and it will certainly be one of the hottest titles at NYFF when it kicks off next week, particularly since Mexico has just selected the film as their Oscar entry for this year.
Starring Stephanie Sigman and Noe Hernandez, the film follows the story of a young beauty pageant contestant (Sigman) who becomes drawn into and eventually trapped in Mexico’s criminal underground. "Miss Bala" is truly breathless piece of filmmaking, one that attaches audiences to the titular Miss Bala and then takes them tumbling with her down the rabbit hole as she becomes further embroiled in an unforgivably violent world. But this isn't some hip-hop fueled celebration of the drug slinging lifestyle. Naranjo's film goes to some very dark places, particularly in the second half, and what emerges is a bracing commentary on the nearly unstoppable scope of Mexico's drug trade and the near futile attempts to contain it.
When we saw the film at Cannes we said it's "a magnificently paced and deeply complex portrait of the out of control situation in Mexico [directed] with a masterfully subtle hand" and indeed, "Miss Bala" stamps Naranjo as a filmmaker with bright future and one to keep an eye on. But if you haven't been able to make any of the festival appearances for the film, not to worry, as Fox International plans on giving "Miss Bala" a U.S. release in the near future (though no date has yet been set). However, in the run up for the Foreign Film Oscar category, "Miss Bala" is a big early favorite and has a very strong shot at making the final five (if not winning the whole damn thing). [THR]