Sin Nombre (2009 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Cary Joji Fukunaga|
|Produced by||Gael García Bernal
|Written by||Cary Joji Fukunaga|
|Music by||Marcelo Zarvos|
|Edited by||Luis Carballar
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
Sin Nombre is a 2009 Mexican-American adventure thriller film written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, about a Honduran girl trying to immigrate to the U.S.A., and a boy caught up in the violence of gang life who also needs to escape.
Filmed in Spanish, the film's title means "Nameless". It won several awards, including the prizes for directing and cinematography at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Willy, nicknamed El Casper, is a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang and lives in Tapachula, a Mexican town near the border with Guatemala. He introduces a young boy into his gang, and the boy is given the nickname Smiley after a violent initiation. Casper later helps Smiley to complete this initiation by helping him execute a rival gang-member. Casper is romantically involved with a girl, Martha Marlen. Fearing for the girl's safety, he keeps the relationship a secret from his gang, but his double life causes his gang to doubt his loyalty. When Martha follows Casper to a gathering of his gang, the gang leader, Lil Mago, escorts her out, despite Casper's misgivings. Mago attempts to rape Martha and accidentally kills her. Later, he blithely tells Casper that he will find another.
Shortly afterward, Mago brings Casper and Smiley to La Bombilla, a location along the train tracks where potential illegal immigrants stow away on passing trains on their way to the United States. Among the immigrants is a Honduran family introduced earlier consisting of the teenage girl Sayra, her father, and her uncle, who are on their way to relatives in New Jersey. Lil Mago, Casper, and Smiley rob the passengers for any money they have until Lil Mago spots Sayra and attempts to rape her. Casper intervenes, killing Mago and then sending Smiley off.
Smiley goes back to the gang and reports about Mago's death. The new gang leader, El Sol, accuses Smiley of collusion, to which Smiley timidly protests and begs to be sent to kill Casper to prove his loyalty. El Sol agrees and Smiley travels north to track down Casper. On the train, the still shocked Casper is avoided by other passengers. When some try to throw him off the train, Sayra warns Casper and keeps on approaching him, despite her father's warnings. Casper's knowledge from previously smuggling gang members and avoiding the police proves useful, as he eludes his pursuers. He is finally accepted by Sayra's family but decides to leave the train while the others are sleeping. Unbeknownst to Casper, Sayra follows him off the train. Meanwhile, her father and uncle decide to continue the journey.
Traveling north on a car transport organized by a friend of Casper, Casper and Sayra barely escape a trap laid for them and enter an immigrant shelter, where Sayra sees a familiar face. She is informed that her father has died and her uncle has been caught. In disbelief, she rushes off to cry at the chapel, where Casper comforts her. They reach a river that constitutes the border to the United States. A coyote agrees to take them across one by one. Casper pays the man with his camera containing the cherished pictures of his murdered girlfriend and insists that Sayra go first. When she is halfway across, the gang appears and begins to chase Casper. Casper flees the pursuing gang but runs into Smiley, who shoots him once, then slowly two more times, the last of which in the head. This allows time for the others to catch up. They then all proceed to empty their magazines and clips into Casper in an execution style killing, while Sayra struggles to hold on to the raft and screams in horror.
The closing scenes show Sayra phoning her father's new family from outside an American mall, her uncle setting off on another attempt to cross the border, and Smiley getting his lip tattooed as a sign of his loyalty to the gang.
- Edgar Flores as Willy ("El Casper")
- Kristyan Ferrer as Benito ("El Smiley")
- Paulina Gaitán as Sayra
- Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Lil Mago
- Diana García as Martha Marlene
- Héctor Jiménez as Wounded Man / Leche 
- Gerardo Taracena as Horacio
- Luis Fernando Peña as El Sol
The film was mostly shot in Mexico City. Locations were found there resembling as closely as possible Tegucigalpa and the train station in Tapachula.
The film was also shot in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico. Several of the extras used in the film were actual migrants. Fukunaga said of working with them, "I didn't have to tell them anything—they know how to sit on top of a train."
The film currently holds an 88% "fresh" rating on the review website Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "Part harrowing immigration tale, part gangster story, this debut by writer/director Cary Fukunaga is sensitive, insightful and deeply authentic." On Metacritic, the film has a 77/100 rating, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Austin Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Won|
|British Independent Film Awards 2009||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards|
|Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
|Most Promising Filmmaker||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Nominated|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Won|
|Deauville American Film Festival||Jury Prize (tied)||Won|
|EDA [Alliance of Women Film Journalists] Award||Best Non-English-Language Film||Nominated|
|2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival||Skillset New Directors Award||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Won|
|Indiana Film Journalists Association Award||Best Foreign Language Film||Won|
|Best Director||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Adriano Goldman||Nominated|
|2009 Sundance Film Festival Awards (U.S. Dramatic Competition)|
|Directing Award||Cary Joji Fukunaga||Won|
|Excellence in Cinematography||Adriano Goldman||Won|
|2009 Stockholm International Film Festival Awards|
|Best First Feature||Won|
|Best Actor||Edgar Flores||Won|
|FIPRESCI International Film Critics Prize for Best Film||Won|
|St. Louis Film Critics Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|