SXSW Film review: ‘Kings of Nowhere’ offers eerie look at town

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A scene from "The Kings of Nowhere."
A scene from "The Kings of Nowhere."

A scene from “The Kings of Nowhere.”

We eerily float through the streets of San Marcos, Sinaloa, Mexico. A lamppost juts out of the water marking the path through the inundated street, as water gently laps against a staircase.

Graffiti is scrawled across the walls as we glide under a building, which has been turned into a bridge of sorts that no one will ever cross.

“The Kings of Nowhere” (“Los reyes del pueblo que no existe”) is director/screenwriter Betzabé García’s first full-length documentary, and through magical realism, the film poses existential questions of place and purpose.

The tone is haunting as a young boy plays a tuba on the second story of a dilapidated building. In another scene a lamppost illuminates the night, but for whom?

One of San Marcos’s seven or so permanent residents attempts to rebuild the ghostly town square brick by brick, while another couple dances at night on their porch accompanied only by silence.

While the cinematography of “The Kings of Nowhere” courts the marvelous, it’s grounded in a reality of extreme poverty and violence in the foothills of Sinaloa. Why is San Marcos underwater half of the year and what pervasive violence lurks, heavy, engulfing the spectre of a town?

Questions will be answered, and it’s well worth the hour and a half to discover why. You can check out “The Kings of Nowhere” at 8:15 Tuesday at the Alamo South and at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Alamo South.


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