Martin, the watchman (el velador in Spanish), surveys the cemetery. But this isn’t a typical cemetery. Located in Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa, Mexico, the Jardines del Humaya cemetery is home to the extravagant mausoleums of some of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords. El Velador (The Night Watchman) allows viewers to accompany Martin as, night after night, he guards the dead.
As an outreach tool, the deliberately paced film provides viewers with an opportunity to contemplate the contrasts: the calm of the cemetery and the violence that created it, the repetition of routine and the extraordinarily quick and wrenching nature of violent death, the simple living conditions of the watchman and the opulent lifestyles of those whose tombs he tends. In the labyrinth of the cemetery, this film about violence without violence reminds us how, in the turmoil of Mexico’s bloodiest conflict since the revolution, ordinary life persists, quietly and defiantly.
Download the discussion guide for El Velador (The Night Watchman):