Following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Miss Bala became the most talked-about Mexican film of the past year. It tells the story of Laura (model/actress Stephanie Sigman), a Tijuana beauty pageant contestant who is delivered into the hands of a gang that is terrorizing northern Mexico. Although Laura succeeds in winning the crown, her experiences as an unwilling participant in Mexico’s violent war leave her shaken and transformed. Inspired by a true story, Miss Bala avoids docudrama clichés and tabloid sensationalism; instead the film evokes the pervasive climate of fear and confusion that has enveloped daily life in some areas of northern Mexico. Using long takes and fluid, precise camera work, Naranjo fashions a highly original thriller: an anguished and harrowing mood piece with an undertow of bleakly absurdist humor and moments of heart-stopping action.
Gerardo Naranjo cowrote and starred in Azazel Jacobs’ 2005 The Good Times Kid, and premiered his first feature film, Drama/Mex, at 2006 Cannes’s Critics’ Week. His 2008 I’m Gonna Explode was featured in the 46th New York Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, and won the FIPRESCI award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival. He participated in Revolución, a compilation of ten short films directed by contemporary Mexican directors, and was included in Take 100, The Future of Film: 100 New Directors, a compendium of gifted emerging filmmakers from around the world that was published by Phaidon.