Identifying Features

Directed by Fernanda Valadez

Release Year: 2020
Running time: 94
Country: Mexico, Spain
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
$11.97 - Classroom Rights
MSRP: $19.95
$349.00 - With PPR
$499.00 - With DSL
$499.00 - With DSL and PPR
MSRP: $599.00
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Directed by: Fernanda Valadez
Writer: Fernanda Valadez, Astrid Rondero

Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the Gotham Award for Best International Film and the Audience Award and Best Screenplay prize at the Sundance Film Festival.


“Critic’s Pick! A sophisticated acknowledgment of the powerlessness that migrants face... enlivened and energized by striking, purposeful images.”

- Teo Bugbee, The New York Times

“A humanitarian lament by way of a slow-burn thriller… one of the best films to ever address this crisis.”

- Carlos Aguilar, The A.V. Club

“Combines stunning cinematography, evocative sound design and hints of magical realism to create a visionary work of devastating power."

- Anjana Janardhan, Sight & Sound

"A stunning Mexican border drama."

- Robert Koehler, Cinema Scope

“A haunting and beautifully realized film.”

- Chase Hutchinson, The Stranger

“On every level, this is impressively accomplished cinema.”

- Wendy Ide, Screen Daily

“A confident, accomplished and distinctive feature directorial debut.”

- Dennis Harvey, Variety

“An austere, gorgeously shot parable of chaos and loss in modern Mexico.”

- Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“Valadez has crafted an instant classic, a quiet achievement that will echo thunderously for decades to come... Identifying Features is a masterpiece."

- Manuel Betancourt, That Shelf

“Speaks volumes of the boundaries of the human heart and of the undeniable qualities of this director, who should be watched with interest.”

- Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa


Winner: Best International Film – Gotham Awards


Winner: Audience Award, World Dramatic – Sundance Film Festival


Winner: Best Screenplay, World Dramatic – Sundance Film Festival

Winner: Best Film, Audience Award, Best Actress – Morelia International Film Festival

Winner: Golden Eye – Zurich Film Festival

Winner: Golden Alexander, Thessaloniki Film Festival
Winner: Best Director, Best First Film – Stockholm Film Festival
Winner: Latin Horizon Award – San Sebastian Film Festival

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