As part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s special screening of Latinx shorts, Fifth of June (2021) explores the conflict between fighting for human rights and becoming a victim of power abuse. Directed by Humberto Flores Jáuregui, the 15-minute short follows a group of protesters who get kidnapped by the same team they are protesting against. With its raw and direct message, the short film reflects on the multiple victims of police brutality and the uncertainty of demanding fundamental rights.
Fifth of June
Based on a massive protest in Mexico on June 5, 2020 to demand justice for the death of Giovanni López by a police officer and the illegal detention of several protesters, the film dives into the reality of going out to fight for social justice. The short opens up with a group of protesters looking for their missing friend. While trying to call him out, the group gets kidnapped by an unknown entity, which later turns out to be the forces they were fighting against. As the film progresses, the group finds itself pushed into the darkness with only their voices as a means of communication, wondering if they will ever see the light again.
The Reality of Millions
Just 15 minutes was enough for the film to showcase the difficulties of fighting for human rights. Fifth of June does not hesitate in displaying the reality of protesting in the world, of being a victim of violence, brutality, and insecurity just by voicing your opinions and needs. The film’s narrative is crude and explicit, exhibiting the number of voices that are silenced when one dares to speak up.
Fifth of June is filled with tense moments, portraying the fear of millions of individuals going out every day looking for a better life for themselves and their loved ones, worried about becoming targets once they raise their voices. With a dark and heavy atmosphere, quotes like “Le quitamos lo activistas cabrones” which translates as “We took away being activist fuckers” take the viewer into the fears the protagonist faces when being illegally retained.
However, what makes this short special is not only its unfiltered storyline, but the message deepened behind the scenes. Apart from being based on the reality of thousands of Mexicans, the film presents the viewer with a vision of what happens when you dare to protest in South America. The film pays tribute to what happened in Mexico in 2020, yet these conflicts of power abuse also happened in other countries in the region. It happened in Colombia in 2019 when a student was shot by the special riot squad (ESMAD) while protesting for better education, as well as in Chile when people were tortured by the police for advocating for a sustainable economy.
Fifth of June does not hesitate about the harsh reality of activists who speak up for human rights, exhibiting how power abuse and police brutality are subjects of matter that tend to be sidelined by those in power. It’s a testament to leaving your home without the knowledge and reassurance of coming back. And while Fifth of June offers an introspective vision of what happens in Latin America, it does a great job of letting the audience question: what else does a person have to face to obtain human rights?
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