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The Suffragists

Distributed by epf media, 324 S. Beverly Drive, PMB 437, Beverly Hills, CA 90212; 310-839-1500
Produced by Ana Cruz
Directed by Ana Cruz
DVD , Color, 78 min.
High School - General Adult
Mexico, Native Americans, Political Science, Politics, Women’s Rights

Reviewed by Sophie M. Forrester, Reed Library, State University of New York at Fredonia

Date Entered: 3/7/2017

The Suffragists (in its original Spanish, Las Sufragistas) relates the story of Eufrosina Cruz, a Zapotec woman in the Mexican state of Oaxaca whose right to run as Municipal President of her community is denied on the basis of deference to her community’s customs, and explores her place in Mexico’s line of women’s suffrage activists.

Although Eufrosina eventually ends up not as Municipal President but as chair of the entire state’s legislature, the moment doesn’t feel like a triumphant climax, as it would in other films. Perhaps that’s due to this film’s focus on the broader, decades-long story, featuring analysis from several female scholars of Mexican political history, rather than on Eufrosina’s personal struggles. In that way, although the film is less emotionally satisfying than it might otherwise be, mercifully avoiding cliché, it instead realistically presents a long-term political story that is far from its ending. Similarly, the film does not fall into a devils-and-angels complex, instead presenting both the successes and the failures of political figures. It’s a refreshing approach in a sea of documentaries that tend to follow the same narrative path.

A problem with the film is its subtitles, which are not always intuitive and often fail to capture the closest possible meaning of the spoken words. But that is a relatively small price to pay to see this interesting look at an important political process.

  • Audience Award, The Puebla Indigenous Festival
  • Best Investigative Documentary, Crystal Screen Festival