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The Devil Never Sleeps
El Diablo Nunca Duerme
A film by Lourdes Portillo
US/Mexico, 1996, 82 minutes, Color, 16mm/DVD, Subtitled
Order No. W99577
Academy Award nominated filmmaker Lourdes Portillo (LAS MADRES: THE MOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO) mines the complicated intersections of analysis and autobiography, evidence and hypothesis, even melodrama and police procedure in this ground-breaking work. Early one Sunday morning, the filmmaker receives a phone call informing her that her beloved Tio (Uncle) Oscar Ruiz Almeida has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Chihuahua, Mexico. His widow declares his death a suicide. Most of his family, however, cry murder and point to a number of suspects that include the widow herself.

The filmmaker returns to the land of her birth to investigate her uncle's identity and death. Finding clues in old tales of betrayal, lust, and supernatural visitation, Portillo blends traditional and experimental techniques to capture the nuances of Mexican social and family order. Poetic and tragic, humorous and mythic, this film crosses the borders of personal values, cultural mores, and the discipline of filmmaking in a fascinating look at family mysteries.

THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


  • Int'l Doc Assoc, Best Documentary
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • SF Int'l Film Fest, Special Jury Award
  • San Juan Cinemafest, Best Documentary
  • Mostra Int'l De Films De Donnes, Best Documentary
  • San Antonio Cinefestival, Best Documentary
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • Sydney Film Festival

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    "The visual style of The Devil Never Sleeps is striking in its simplicity and in its power to convey paradox."
    Olga Sanchez
    Open City

    "Packed with magic and realism...Portillo keeps the suspense up in a way reminiscent of The Thin Blue Line."
    Tim Appelo
    The Oregonian

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