Part of Restoration Roundup
Rarely screened in the United States and long due for rediscovery, VICTIMS OF SIN is famed Mexican director Emilio Fernández’s unique blend of film noir, melodrama and musical. Acting-dancing sensation Ninón Sevilla plays Violeta, a cabaret performer who adopts the abandoned child of Rita (Rita Montaner) and Rodolfo (Rodolfo Acosta), her murderous pimp. Motherhood forces Violeta to give up her career, but the kindhearted club owner Santiago (Tito Junco) saves her from a life of poverty and prostitution — until Rodolfo, freed from prison, seeks to reclaim his son. Best known for the award-winning MARÍA CALENDARIA (1944) and THE PEARL (1947), Fernández infuses VICTIMS with impassioned songs and performances by Sevilla, an icon of Mexican cinema and a purveyor of African, Caribbean and Cuban dance styles.
VICTIMS OF SIN was fully restored in 4K from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative, which had been damaged from mishandling over the decades, by Peter Conheim (Cinema Preservation Alliance/USA) and Viviana Garcia-Besné (Permanencia Voluntaria/Mexico). Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance co-produced the preservation effort with further assistance from IMCINE and the Academy Film Archive, bringing VICTIMS OF SIN back to the screen with a clarity and depth not seen since its original release.
“A tumultuous product of Mexican cinema’s Golden Age, the movie is a perfect storm, the confluence of three huge talents: It was directed and cowritten by the nation’s most macho filmmaker, given to boasting ‘There is only one Mexico, the one I invented’; it was shot by Mexico’s greatest cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa (an even tougher Communist than his mentor Sergei Eisenstein); and it stars filmdom’s ultimate rumbera, a thirty-year-old bolt of lightning, the Havana-born, sensationally uninhibited dancer Ninón Sevilla.” —J. Hoberman, Artforum