Sicario: The movie which has upset Ciudad Juárez prior to its release
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Sicario: The movie which has upset Ciudad Juárez prior to its release

Benicio del Toro’s latest movie, Sicario, has received countless good reviews from U.S. critics. It could even be up for an Oscar nomination.

Del Toro leads a gang of violent drug traffickers, smuggling narcotics along the U.S. – Mexico border. It is up to Emily Blunt, playing an FBI agent, to try to stop del Toro and this murky criminal underworld, as the story unfolds.

But south of the border Ciudad Juárez mayor Enrique Serrano Escobar has been hitting back against Sicario, with a potential boycott planned for the movie’s screening.

In fact, Serrano Escobar’s campaign has even reached the New York Times.

“Out of date,”

“There is a whole community making an effort to restore the image of the city, and now they come along and speak ill of us,” he said in an interview with the publication.

Serrano claims the movie is “out of date,”  and is being released “just as we in the city are turning in a different direction.”

But as crime rates continue to drop in Ciudad Juárez, how will the film be received in its native Mexico with the release date set for December?

Ironically, pirate copies of the movie are among the most popular for local movie buffs across the region.

“We never meant to upset the residents of Ciudad Juárez with our movie,” director Denis Villenueve comments, “People who fight for peace deserve our respect.”

Villenueve claims that the movie was dreamt up in 2010 when crime and violence were at an all time high in the city.

Improved image

In fact, between 2007 and 2011 the city was considered to be one of the most dangerous along the U.S. border with around 9000 people murdered as a result of ongoing warfare between the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels, the BBC reports.

Skip forward to 2015 and murder rates have dropped to around 20 to 30 victims each month, down from 350 recorded a few years previous. No kidnappings have been officially reported during the past two years.

Tourism has also increased, with many hotels now at 70 percent occupancy rather than 20 to 40 percent previously reported.

Investment in the city’s police force and social programs have helped the once violent statistics to remain in the past.

A bloody reminder

Sicario’s release threatens to damage the city’s improved image.

“If you saw that film in the United States or Europe and you were thinking of coming here, you probably wouldn’t come,” Escobar Serrano adds.

Many residents resent the fact that the movie wasn’t even shot in Ciudad Juárez: El Paso, Albuquerque and Mexico City were used as locations.

Furthermore, actor Benicio del Toro has come under scrutiny for the hefty price tag he charged for making the movie.

“I’ve never made a movie for money. I turn up, read my lines and I go.” He commented.

For one student behind the Ciudad Juárez Facebook campaign, Liliana Pérez, the movie has “opened up” the wound of ills which scarred the city in the past.

Hollywood’s next blockbuster is a painful reminder for Ciudad Juárez residents of a time that they would rather remained in the past.

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