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SXSW Review: ‘Luchadoras’

March 22, 2021Ben MK

In Mexico, the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women is one that is continually getting worse and worse, claiming thousands of lives each year. But while the problem is especially evident in the world's most dangerous city, Ciudad Juárez, this also happens to be a place where the women are fighting back — by making a name for themselves in the male-dominated sport of Lucha Libre wrestling.

In Luchadoras, directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim profile three such women. Lady Candy is a 23-year-old whose abusive ex-husband fled with her daughters to El Paso, Texas, so she works in a funeral home by day and wrestles by night in order to make money for her visa application; Baby Star used to wrestle at a professional level, but since meeting her luchador husband and starting a family she has been fighting to get back to her former peak; and Mini Sirenita is a diminutive factory worker who wrestles to support her daughter and granddaughter in Mexico City. What unifies these women, however, is not just their love of the sport; it's how they're using it to challenge both gender norms and the oppressive Mexican patriarchy.

On the surface, the result is an engaging documentary about a little-known wrestling subculture. More importantly, it's an examination of a very real human rights crisis and a reminder not only that stereotypes are meant to be shattered, but that the most meaningful empowerment often has to come from within.

Luchadoras screens under the Global section at the 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 32 min.

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