This engrossing documentary introduces us to Mexican millionaire mayor Mauricio Fernandez, a larger-than-life and frequently controversial politician who lords over Latin America’s wealthiest municipality from his eccentrically decorated palace — and has a predilection for taking justice into his own hands.
Emiliano Altuna Fistolera, Carlos Federico Rossini, Diego Osorno
Since 2006, when former president Felipe Calderón declared a war on drug trafficking and organized crime, there have been an estimated 60,000 narco-related fatalities in Mexico. In 2010 alone, fourteen mayors were executed across the country — a message from los narcos about just who calls the shots. Tucked within this culture of violence, in the northern state of Nuevo León, sits San Pedro Garza García, considered the wealthiest municipality in Latin America — and the safest in all of Mexico. Presiding over this affluent enclave, from 2009 to late last year, was outspoken mayor Mauricio Fernández Garza, a millionaire determined to rid his town of drug trafficking and murder-through whatever means necessary.
The Mayor, the debut documentary by Emiliano Altuna Fistolera, Carlos Federico Rossini, and Diego Osorno, offers an intimate understanding of the current situation in Mexico from a side of the spectrum rarely accessed: someone in a position of power. Fernández cuts a controversial figure: when newly elected he publicly announced the death of a crime leader before the body was even found. Fearless, and surprisingly affable, he has no qualms about how he gets his job done, nor do his residents seem to mind. Since his election, crime rates, though still high, are down.
Over the course of The Mayor, we see
Fernández play a clarinet solo in his enormous
fortress outfitted with tiles from
William Randolph Hearst's mansion. We
watch home movies of his expeditions to
Africa, and listen to his thoughts on governing,
which often enter troublingly hazy
moral zones. Allowing their subject to
reflect on his life's activities in the comfort
of his own quarters, Fistolera, Rossini, and
Osorno, in accordance with the best films
of Errol Morris, craft a richly layered portrait
of this contentious leader — by letting
him speak for himself.