Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

La Civil 2021

Directed by Teodora Ana Mihai

Caught between the inaction of local authorities and the senseless cruelty of the cartels, a Mexican mother takes matters into her own hands when her daughter is kidnapped in Teodora Ana Mihai’s fierce first feature.

Mexico In Spanish with English subtitles
138 minutes DCP


Arcelia Ramírez
Álvaro Guerrero
Jorge A. Jiménez


Hans Everaert


Habacuc Antonio de Rosario
Teodora Ana Mihai


Marius Panduru


Alain Dessauvage


Jean-Stephane Garbe


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2021


Un Certain Regard Prize of Courage
Cannes Film Festival 2021


“A question as seemingly benign as ‘You’re Laura’s mother, right?’ becomes the moment when Cielo’s life changes forever. The query, posed by a toothy-smiled young man, is born not out of curiosity but out of a need to make sure he’s found the right woman to extort...

What follows may well be accurately described as a revenge narco-western set in Northern Mexico. But such a synopsis risks sensationalizing the subject matter of La Civil and flattening its aesthetic prowess. Just as a mundane interaction kicks off a harrowing search that will leave Cielo (Like Water for Chocolate’s Arcelia Ramírez) with more questions than answers about her daughter’s abduction and its ties to local gangs, much of La Civil concerns itself with quiet, introspective scenes that make its sporadic – and tensely thrilling – moments of violence thunder all the more powerfully...

Filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai, who was born in Romania and is now based in Ghent, Belgium, initially conceived La Civil as a documentary. And while the final project, which she co-wrote with Mexican-born writer Habacuc Antonio de Rosario, is very much a work of fiction, there’s a nonfiction sensibility that still echoes through the film itself.” — Manuel Betancourt, Variety

“Ramírez makes viewers feel the weight of Cielo's struggle throughout La Civil, which is why the film is so powerful... Mihai gives voice to the individuals – the criminals, the victims, and the innocent bystanders – to show the ripple effects of the cartel violence in Northern Mexico, and, by extension, elsewhere. It is an authentic portrait of this dangerous world.” — Gary M Kramer, Salon