What happened to the 43 students who went missing in Southern Mexico in September of this year? The Vice News produced documentary examines the mass disappearance of the young men who were all training to teach the youth of their country, as well as the tragedy and controversy surrounding their disappearance. As sure as the news coverage, people’s movements, and conspiracy theories have caused many questions to continue to be asked about the case throughout Mexico and abroad, you’ll have many questions of your own once you reach the end of this documentary.
The Missing 43 is shot in a news footage style and without any attempt at sensationalism; the documentary captures raw and shocking imagery or at least imagery that would have shocked audiences across America before we were, as a whole, less desensitized than we are in modern times. Still, staggering figures like the 90% of uninvestigated crimes that occur in Mexico stare you in the face in the form of real people living the story you’ll be immediately captivated by.
Seeing real names and faces attached to news stories that feel more like stories than news in the scope of the media is perhaps more startling than even the most macabre of findings throughout the documentary. The Missing 43 never fails to make the presence of its subjects felt. The people who loved them, the people who conspiracy theories tell us had the worst intentions for them, and the spaces they once occupied all serve as effective symbolism.
Outright displays of what the documentary’s narrator and host, refers to as “narco-political violence” unfolds almost immediately, and expectedly. However, if you’re thinking you know what this is all about thinking again. Mexico’s secrets go far beyond the 43 missing students and seem to spill out with the slightest bit of effort put into a search; even when that search is for something else altogether.
As the credits roll up the screen audiences are given the chance to look into the faces of each missing student, and in a way, the students are given the chance to look back.