Facets Cinémathèque

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April 29–May 5, 2016

Chicago Premiere

Bleak Street
(La calle de la amargura)

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Film still: Bleak Street Film still: Bleak Street


"Mexico's grand auteur Arturo Ripstein is in fine neorealistic form with his devilishly depressing feature Bleak Street"
  —Film International
"Perhaps the most epitomizing work in director Arturo Ripstein's five-decade filmography"
3 stars½
  —Slant Magazine
3 stars½ "A visionary triumph"

Based on a true story, the latest feature by Arturo Ripstein (Deep Crimson) is an unflinching look at the mean streets of El Defectuoso. The 2009 deaths of fraternal wrestlers La Parkita and Espectrito Jr. made headlines all over Mexico. These miniluchadores, little people who function as mascots for their hulking counterparts, were drugged by two women in a Cuauhtémoc hotel. They only meant to knock out the brothers and take their money, but the doses were misjudged, and the robbery turned into murder.

This sensationalistic news item becomes a platform for a series of engrossing character studies through which we get to know the brothers and their two killers. Sketching the events just before and after that fateful night in the hotel, Bleak Street conducts a wry examination of Mexico City's marginalized, whether they be exploited entertainers with threadbare costumes or aging sex workers burdened by horrible marriages and financial problems stemming from their long-departed youth.

Echoing his early mentor Luis Buñuel, Ripstein bestows compassion upon all his characters equally while eschewing sentimentality. With its spellbinding long-take, black-and-white imagery, and naturalistic performances, Bleak Street guides us through a gloomy labyrinth of desperation and desire.

Directed by Arturo Ripstein, 2015, Mexico/Spain, 99 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles.


  • Fri., Apr. 29 at 7 & 9 pm
  • Sat., Apr. 30 at 3, 5, 7 & 9 pm Sun., May 1 at 5 & 7 pm Mon.–Thurs., May 2–5 at 7 & 9 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation