ATL TLACHINOLLI / SCORCHED WATER
Alexander Hick | Mexico, Germany 2015 | 76 Min. | OmdU
“In order to escape being sacrificed, the God Xólotl transforms himself into a salamander, fleeing from what he once was. His death was necessary in order to bring forth a new era.” So relates the voice in the essay film Atl Tlachinolli (Scorched water), which tells of the search for the Axolotl, a salamander that lives in the lakes surrounding Mexico City. The Axolotl – an Aztec word for “water monster” – lives its entire life in the water, refusing to undergo metamorphosis and conform to terrestrial life. The animal was seen for the last time in its natural habitat in 2014. Taking up this mythology of transformation from god to animal as a metaphor for Mexico City itself, the director accompanies a corrupt policeman and brutal gang members in the sprawling suburbs of the megalopolis. He examines the struggle for survival in what was the former lake of Mexico but is today the habitat of 23 million people. As an essayistic inquiry into survival and adaptation, the film casts its gaze on that which remains.