Film poster for "Purgatorio" with man hanging on top of barrier with yellow background.
Film poster for "Purgatorio" with man hanging on top of barrier with yellow background.
A unique cinematic experience to take us deep into the heart of the US-Mexico border


Regular price $249.00


​“Beauty and brutality on two sides of a border.” - The New York Times | BEST U.S. LATINO FILM - Cinema Tropical Awards | JURY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY - San Diego Latino Film Festival | JURY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY - New Orleans Film Festival

Latinx Experience • Immigration & Border Studies • Film Studies

Date of Completion: 2013 | Run Time: 52 minutes​​ | Language: In English and Spanish with English & Spanish Subtitles | Captions: No | Directors: Rodrigo Reyes & Inti Cordera 

Rodrigo Reyes’ provocative essay film re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante’s purgatory. Leaving politics aside, he takes a fresh look at the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell. By capturing a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes that live on the US/Mexico border, the filmmaker reflects on the flaws of human nature and the powerful absurdities of the modern world. An unusual border film, in the auteur tradition of caméra-stylo, PURGATORIO ultimately becomes a fable of humanity, an epic and visceral experience with powerful and lingering images.

OOKLIST | Candace Smith
"Many U.S. and Mexico border areas are filled with abandoned automobiles, discarded trash, and broken dreams. In this haunting documentary directed by Rodrigo Reyes, filmmakers spend four weeks along the border recording a region covered with “dirt and despair” that Reyes aptly calls “Purgatorio.” A drug addict says one day is the same as another, and two men who have traveled for days emotionally speak about families left behind. A humanitarian volunteer leaves backpacks filled with provisions on trees for those trying to cross the border, while another begrudges illegals entering the U.S. Speakers pay tribute to policemen killed on duty, villagers talk of police brutality, and border officials try to identify unnamed bodies. The dialogue alternates between Spanish (with English subtitles) and English (with Spanish subtitles), and narration is limited. A telling glimpse into the complex problem of borders and immigration."

VARIETY Andrew Barker
"A searing, horrifying, at times starkly beautiful documentary ode to the netherworlds surrounding the U.S.-Mexico barrier."

NEW YORK TIMES | Daniel M. Gold
"Beauty and brutality on two sides of a border."

2015 Best US Latino Film | Cinema Tropical Awards
Jury Award for Best Documentary | San Diego Latino Film Festival
Jury Award for Best Documentary | This Human World
Jury Award for Best Documentary | New Orleans Film Festival
Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary | Ann Arbor Film Festival


America Reframed, a documentary series airing on World Channel and PBS
UC Merced
Princeton University
University of San Diego
Cal State San Marcos

Rodrigo Reyes is a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and award-winning filmmaker. His presentations for college students focus on the immigrant experience and challenge preconceived notions of the US-Mexico border. He is the grandson of migrant farmworkers from Michoacán, and was raised between Mexico and the United States. His visceral and beautiful films explore the fractures separating these two worlds. His GOOD TALK includes screening one or both of his award-winning documentaries. PURGATORIO is a compelling journey into the heart of the US-Mexico border. A work that challenges audiences to re-evaluate their notions of this conflicted space, the film has toured more than 40 international festivals, winning Jury Awards at the New Orleans Film Festival and San Diego Latino Film Festival, as well as the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary. His latest work, LUPE UNDER THE SUN, is a neorealist film following an aging migrant worker living in California, who longs to return to Mexico before it is too late. Featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors, real farmworkers and authentic locations, LUPE UNDER THE SUN tackles issues of depression, homesickness and the immigrant myth of the American Dream. Rodrigo was awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and has received the support of the Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, Film Independent, both IFP Filmmaker Narrative and Documentary Labs, California Council for the Humanities, Spotlight on Storytellers Grant, and more. He is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and in 2013 was named one of the ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’ by Filmmaker Magazine. He has spoken at campuses including University of San Diego, Princeton, California State San Marcos, California State Monterey Bay and Oakland University.