Portraits of a Search

A film by Alicia Calderón

Mexico | 2015 | 74 minutes | Color | DVD | Spanish | English subtitles | Order No. 161171


More than 20,000 people disappeared in Mexico during the horrifically violent war on drugs waged by former President Calderon. With each missing person, a family is left behind in a desperate search to get answers from a government that is suspiciously ambivalent. Putting a human face on the most harrowing of statistics, director Alicia Calderon courageously captures the stories of three mothers - Natividad, Guadalupe, and Margarita - as they search for their children who have gone missing. One mother constantly retraces the last steps of her son, combing empty fields for his body; another travels all the way to Washington, DC, to plead for US intervention; and the last simply tries to forget the emptiness and raise her now-motherless grandson. In one of the most powerful documentaries about the human casualties of the Mexican narco-wars, these women’s stories are among the many that stand for truth and justice for the 26,000 missing people in Mexico today. With their lives now completely devoted to seeking out the truth, they pursue any avenue possible, in the face of an indifferent government which considers their loved ones to be "collateral casualties" of the drug war.


"One of the most powerful documentaries about the human casualties of the Mexican drug wars."

Heather Haynes HotDocs

"A film that transcends borders and countries….that touches the deepest fibers of being."

Jury, Monterrey International Film Festival


  • Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
  • Ambulante Film Festival
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest
  • FEMCINE Chile
  • Cine Las America Film Festival
  • Festival de Cine de Lima
  • Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
  • Festival International de cine y Derechos Humanos, Argentina
  • Festival International de cine y Derechos Humanos, Uruguay


Alicia Calderón

PORTRAITS OF A SEACH (2014) is Calderón's first documentary feature film. This project was selected by IMCINE to receive Guidance for the Development of Storylines and was produced with the Fund for Quality Film Production FOPROCINE - Mexico, for the postproduction of feature films, of the Mexican Film Institute.

Her documentary has been included in film festivals like Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia, AMBULANTE, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, HotDocs, FIPA, Shefield Doc Fest, among others.

In 2010, she participated in the Theory and Practice Workshop of Documentary Filming and Postproduction, sponsored by AMBULANTE and the Mexican Film Institute, where she was selected to direct the short film A POSSIBLE DREAM.

She has worked as a journalist in written press, radio and television for 14 years. Her works have been published in Mexico’s main editorial groups, such as Reforma and Milenio, as well as in international media, such as the Associated Press agency and the cultural channel NCI, of the Association of Ibero-American Educational and Cultural Television.

She has a bachelor in Communication Sciences and Techniques by the UNIVA, with postgraduate studies in Communication, Social Change and Development, at the Complutense University of Madrid. She has taught at the bachelor in Communication of the ITESO, the Jesuit university of Guadalajara. She is former grant holder of the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation, of the Knight Center for Journalism, among others.

She is currently working on her second feature film documentary. This project was also selected by IMCINE to receive Guidance for the Development of Storylines. (9/15)


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