AWARD SCREENING: BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR AWARD – THE GASOLINE THIEVES
Living with his mother and working as a farmhand in his hometown, fourteen-year-old Lalo (Eduardo Banda) sees buying a smartphone for his high-school crush the only surefire way into her heart. When his mother is forced to use his savings in order to pay for medical bills, Lalo decides to approach the local huachicoleros for help, who quickly enlist his aid in their business of illegally siphoning gas in order to take advantage of the country’s shortage and re-sell on the black market. As Lalo naively becomes more involved with the huachicoleros’ work, an uneasy air of violence begins to overtake the world around him, while investigators narrow their search for those responsible.
Depicted in beautifully sun-drenched imagery and grounded in Banda's remarkable first on-screen performance, director Edgar Nito crafts an intensely resonant and engrossing story of the tightening grip facing both his protagonist and his country with this feature debut.