On a September evening in Mexico in 2014, masked men with guns attacked five buses packed with students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers College. Six people died at the scene; 43 students were kidnapped and disappeared without a trace. The government investigation concluded that the perpetrators were members of a drug cartel and local police officers, and that the missing students were murdered and their bodies burned. Despite arrests and pending charges, no convictions ensued—exemplifying Mexico’s descent over the past 20 years into a narco-state.
Artist and activist Ai Weiwei gives a voice to the families of the missing students, as he and his small film crew visit them in their poverty-stricken villages. Everywhere he goes, there are photos of the boys—each of them a star student who carried the hope of a better future. The emotions of their mothers, fathers, siblings, and partners swing between pain and rage. This almost aloof record of their story is a powerful indictment of a corrupt government that victimizes the weakest in society with impunity.