Scorched Water
Scorched Water
Scorched Water
Scorched Water
Scorched Water
Scorched Water

Scorched Water

Regular price $345.00

"So the axolotl, worshipped by the Aztecs, is the last witness of an oppressed and abused landscape and an age when humans were still capable of building advanced civilisations.  An intelligent – in the noblest sense of the word – essay film, and the bold portrait of a city." – Dok Leipzig

  • Visions du Réel
  • Dok Leipzig
  • Morelia International Film Festival
  • Riviera Maya International Film Festival
  • Oaxaca Film Festival

This deft essay film focuses in on an Aztec symbol of mythological import, then proposes it as a metaphor and frame for seeing more deeply into the flux of modern Mexico City, and the adaptation required of those living on its margins to survive.

The canals and chinampas (floating gardens) of Xochimilco in southern Mexico City are all that remain of a once vast pre-Columbian agricultural and lake system in the Valley of Mexico, which was developed into a foundation of the largest human settlement and densest city in Mesoamerica, Tenochtitlan.  Xochimilco also remains the only native habitat of the axolotl, a neotenic salamander capable of regeneration named after the Aztec god of fire and lightning, Xolotl.  In the mythology, Xolotl transformed himself into a salamander in order to escape being sacrificed, and was believed to navigate safe passage through the underworld for the sun every night.  Xolotl's death, perpetually forestalled, was believed to be necessary to bring forth a new era.  The axolotl lives in a similar state of arrested development, capable of regenerating its body but never going through a final metamorphosis to live on the land.

Scorched Water begins as a search for the endangered axolotl, which despite its connection with mythological immortality has not been sighted in a few years.  One of the last fishermen surviving on the outskirts of the megalopolis tells of its disappearance and expresses his desire to transform into one himself.  Squatters have been encroaching on the chinampas, leading to further pollution and erosion of the canal system.  Gang members recount some of their stories living on the margins around this area, stories that reveal the adaptation required to survive, but hard to characterize as regenerative.  One of their former associates who became a corrupt policeman seems to move seamlessly between his two roles, almost like an amphibian.  And so what begins as a search for the symbol of the unchanging, develops into an inquiry of change.  The mythology of transformation lives on, but with Mexico City and its 22 million inhabitants as a symbol of metamorphosis.

76 Minutes | Spanish with English subtitles.

Directed by Alexander Hick
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