February 18, 2021 - 7:53am
Posted by Jim Healy


Thanks to the support of UW Madison’s Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS), we are pleased to announce a return view-at-home engagement of the acclaimed and award-winning Mexican movie Identifying Features.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES (SIN SEÑAS PARTICULARES, Mexico, 2020, 94 min., Spanish with English subtitles) tells the story of Magdalena, (Mercedes Hernández), who hasn’t heard from her son Jesús in the two months since he left their small village to cross the border into the U.S. Joined by the recently deported Miguel (David Illescas), Magdalena leads a desperate search for her son, whom the authorities believe to be dead, into some of the most violent and remote territories of present-day Mexico. Crossing rugged landscapes by foot and trying to elude countless armed bandits, Magdalena and Miguel’s odyssey offers an unflinching view of a current, harrowing crisis. Identifying Features is a chilling and artfully told thriller that marks the auspicious feature-length directorial debut of Fernanda Valadez, whose boldly pronounced style includes suspenseful and fluid long takes, a thought-provoking use of focus, and a precision eye for point-of-view and composition. Valadez' co-screenwriter, co-producer, and co-editor is Astrid Rondero, and the filmmakers' talents also include a humanistic touch that bestows characters with an inner life, allowing us to believe they exist beyond the frames of the movie.

“Impressive in many ways, from its strong naturalistic performances to the vivid sense of dislocation and vulnerability felt by the principal characters in dangerous or unfamiliar surroundings” (Variety).

"Signals an exciting arrival by a much-needed voice" (Hollywood Reporter).

Beginning February 18, the Cinematheque is providing limited opportunities to view Identifying Features at home for free. To receive access, send an email to and simply include the code LACIS in the subject line. No further message is necessary. This view-at-home presentation is presented with the support of UW Madison's Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS).

On a recently recorded episode of our Cinematalk podcast, special guests Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero talk with the Cinematheque’s Jim Healy about Identifying Features. The filmmaking duo won the Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where Identifying Features also captured the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category. Listen below or subscribe to Cinematalk on Apple Podcasts.