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The remarkable animated short from Mexico, “Fuego”, is an unforgettable, culturally important film about the plight of indigenous women.

Nominated for the best animated short film by the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences, Fuego (Spanish for “fire”) is a haunting and poignant animated short film that follows the day-to-day life of a pregnant indigenous woman in Mexico.

Xóchitl is trapped in her ramshackle home, performing menial tasks while a shadowy, abusive figure stops by daily to check on her, ensuring she is locked inside.

One day, the figure drops a book of matches which she uses to burn a hole in the wall of her hut, first to see the outside world, then to escape by burning a larger one, but the hole is too small for her to fit through on account of her pregnant belly.

The neighbors on either side of her begin whispering about the smoke coming from the house, and the gossip culminates into one word: “Bruja” (“witch”).

The next day, the shadowy figure takes the matches away from her, sending her into despair. But when she goes to check the hole the next day, at first, there is a glimmer of hope, as she sees it has caught fire.

Soon, however, she realizes the fire is spreading to the rest of the house.

What happens next is unspeakably horrifying and heartbreaking.

A poignant postscript at the end of this riveting short speaks to the bleak plight of indigenous women in Mexico. It’s sobering and more unsettling than any horror film.

CHANGE WILL BEGIN WHEN ALL LIVES MATTER, NOT JUST A FEW.

I don’t think I have ever been so sad and horrified at the same time from watching a short film.

The animation itself is beautiful, using stop-motion techniques and showcasing a regional flare with earth tones and even corn, which is not only Mexico’s most important crop but has a prominence reaching far back into the history of Meso-Americans, when the region was first farmed by Toltec, Aztec, and Mayan civilizations.

If you want to see an unforgettable, culturally important, and morbidly beautiful short film (animated by Clara Helena Cobo Reyes; original music by Erick Alcántara) with an impactful message, please seek out FUEGO. It will burn itself into your memory, and hopefully, your heart.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5