News Column

Director Gerardo Naranjo: Beauty Queen's Death in Shootout 'Sad'

Nov. 29, 2012

Adriana M. Chavez, El Paso Times, Texas

The highly publicized recent death of a 20-year-old beauty queen from Sinaloa, Mexico, during an apparent drug-related gunbattle drew many comparisons to the 2011 critically acclaimed movie "Miss Bala" ("Miss Bullet") by director Gerardo Naranjo, who is currently filming a TV pilot in El Paso.

On Saturday, the body of Maria Susana Flores Gamez was found near an assault rifle on a Sinaloa road. She was shot and killed during a shootout between Mexican soldiers and an alleged gang of drug traffickers whom she was traveling with. Several media outlets in Mexico quickly compared the shooting to a scene befitting Naranjo's movie about a woman competing for Miss Baja California who reluctantly becomes involved in a drug ring.

The movie was Mexico's Academy Awards submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category this year.

Naranjo, who was in El Paso this week directing the pilot for the FX series "The Bridge," called the comparison "sad," especially considering Flores Gamez's age.

"What I think is the saddest thing is what pushed this woman to be in that position," Naranjo said during a break in filming the TV pilot on Wednesday. "It was a very stupid thing that she did. I think it's sad."

In February, Flores Gamez won the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa beauty pageant, but in June she lost her bid for the title of Our Beauty Sinaloa, who goes on to compete in the Miss Mexico pageant.

Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera told The Associated Press that Flores Gamez was traveling in one of the vehicles that engaged soldiers in an hours-long chase and running gunbattle on Saturday near her native city of Guamuchil in Sinaloa state. Higuera said two other members of the drug gang were killed and four were detained.

In "Miss Bala," the film's main character gets arrested on suspicion of crimes she was forced to commit as part of the drug ring, emulating the arrest of 2008 Miss Sinaloa Laura Zuniga in 2010.

Naranjo said he made "Miss Bala" out of "fear, the feeling of not knowing where the evil came from. I tried to communicate the feeling of e how a woman would become involved in a world where organized crime conquers her life."

He said he doesn't think that drugs and criminals are the only elements making Mexico unsafe, and he hopes the incoming Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, makes a difference in improving the nation's safety.

"Socially it's broken. We don't have faith in the (Mexican federal) institution," Naranjo said.

Source: (c)2012 El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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