El Sicario Room 164

Not available for screening anymore

El Sicario Room 164

Directed by Gianfranco Rosi

  • USA-France 2010; 84 min
  • Original version: Spanish
  • Genre: Documentary
    • FIPRESCI Award, Orizzonti, Venice IFF

  • Venice IFF: Orizzonti


A Juarez hit man speaks : El Sicario Room 164 is an eighty-minute documentary about a hit man. He has killed hundreds of people, is an expert in torture and kidnapping, and for many years was a commander of the state police in Chihuahua. He even received some training from the FBI. He has lived in Ciudad Juárez and has moved freely throughout Mexico and the United States. At the moment, there is a contract on his life of $250,000 and he lives as a fugitive, though he is still free and has never been charged with a crime in any country.
The film takes place in a motel room on the U.S. / Mexico border. The sicario is highly intelligent, very articulate and all too believable. The film stems from Charles Bowden's essay "The Sicario" published in 2009 in Harper's Magazine.

Director's Statement

When we first entered Room 164, the sicario was supposed to give us a brief window into a city being devoured by murder. He likes to draw, so we gave him some pen and paper. He wants to live, so he put on a veil. It was all going to be cut and dried: a brief portrait of a murderous freak who has sent hundreds to their graves. The sicario did not answer our questions, he cast them aside as things asked by the ignorant. Days later, he’d shown us life as killing and killing as the essence of life itself. He took us into his murders and tortures, his needs, his failure and his hope for redemption. A lot of people who met the sicario died. The world we brought with us into Room 164 died. He forced us to face a world being born, one that is larger than his life or his nation. He shoved our face into the future and dared us to stop it in time. This is not magical realism, this time the bullets are not metaphors. Those days in Room 164 took control of what we had planned. The sicario taught us what we could never have imagined. That is how this film came to be.






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