Señorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman)

The remains of sexually assaulted girls were found in the desert in Mexico. The families will not rest until these crimes are solved.

Film Signature Image
POV, Global Voices
Premiere Date
August 20, 2002
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2002 Sundance Film Festival-Special Jury Award
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    2002 Human Rights Watch New York Film Festival-Nestor Almendros Prize
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    2002 International Documentary Association (IDA)-Distinguished Achievement Award
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    2002 Havana International Film Festival-Best Documentary
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    2002 La Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematograficas-El Ariel Award, Best Mexican Documentary
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2003 International Documentary Association (IDA)-Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards, Feature Competition
  • Producer

    Lourdes Portillo

    Lourdes Portillo has lived in the U.S. since 1960. Her credits include the Oscar-nominated documentary feature, Las Madres: The Mothers Of The Plaza De Mayo, as well as La Ofrenda: The Days Of The Dead; Columbus On Trial; Mirrors Of The Heart for the PBS series, Americas; The Devil Never Sleeps for Independent Lens; Corpus: A Home Movie For Selena and Senorita Extraviada Show more for POV; and 13 Days, a multimedia piece for the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Show less

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    The Film

    Someone is killing the young women of Juárez, Mexico, one of the world’s largest border cities. Since 1993, more than 270 young women have been raped and murdered in a chillingly consistent and brazen manner. Authorities blame the women for being prostitutes — though many were workers and students — and follow outlandish leads while relatives of the women demand justice. Most disturbingly, evidence of police complicity remains uninvestigated as the killings continue.

    This shocking crime wave is laid bare in Señorita Extraviada, which wades into the chaos of a booming border town to ask questions the authorities would rather ignore.

    The bodies that began to appear in the desert around Juárez in 1993 continue to turn up to this day — young women brutally raped and murdered. Despite the number of victims and the audacity of the killers, the authorities have been ineffective. After callously, and incorrectly, writing off the murders to the wayward lifestyles of supposed prostitutes, they then fixed obstinately on one then another captured suspect whose guilt became more and more implausible in the face of continuing murders.

    Most alarmingly, the account of a woman who survived an attack to tell her tale of horror has gone uninvestigated. Señorita Extraviada picks up the story with this testimony, and the struggle of the victims’ families, who have come together to demand justice despite government indifference or perhaps worse.