The City of Progress

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, an environmentalist reflects on the high pollution rates of the city in which he lives.

  • Sergio Osvaldo Valdés
  • Sergio Osvaldo Valdés
  • Sergio Osvaldo Valdés
  • Karla Canizales
    Director of Photography
  • Luig Gómez
    Sound Design
  • Victor Eduardo Guerra Ibarra
  • Karla Canizales
  • Guillermo Martínez Berlanga
    Key Cast
    "As himself"
  • Karla Canizales
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    La Ciudad del Progreso
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 10, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital Full HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Guzttazo y Esto Es Para Esto
    CREA Centro Cultural, Irapuato, Guanajuato
    September 7, 2022
    Retrospectiva Voces de la Ciudad
  • Encuentro Internacional de Cineastas (Esto Es Para Esto)
    Gargantúa Espacio Cultural, Nuevo León
    September 6, 2022
  • Festival RNAB
    São Paulo
  • Esto Es Para Esto
    Monterrey, Nuevo León
    May 19, 2022
    EEPE Retrospectiva Voces de la Ciudad
  • Festival RENUAC
  • Muestra Intergaláctica de Cine
    Sala Emilio “El Indio Fernández”, Saltillo, Coahuila
    December 10, 2021
    Selección Oficial
  • Festival Internacional de Cine Austral (FICA)
    Ciudad de Córdoba
    December 6, 2021
    Muestra Competitiva Regional-Latinoamericana
  • 8va Muestra Audiovisual: La Imagen de la Memoria
    Muestra Internacional
  • Latino and Iberian Film Festival at Yale (LIFFY)
    Centro MacMillan de la Universidad de Yale, New Haven, CT
    United States
    November 12, 2021
    Short Films Block 9: Mexico
    Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
    November 3, 2021
  • Beyond Time Genre Awards (Season IV 2021)
    Online Event
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • 'Nuevo Mundo' The Film Club: Latinoamerica
    Online Event
    Cine Latinoamericano y brasileño
  • 4to Festival Internacional de Cine Ambiental de Cali - FINCALI
    August 12, 2021
    Selección Internacional No Competitiva
Director Biography - Sergio Osvaldo Valdés

Sergio Osvaldo Valdes is a mexican screenwriter and film director. In 2019, he started his own production company Voces de la Ciudad in which, through audiovisual records and documentary films, it serves as a digital archive to the memory of the state of Nuevo León, México. His documentary short films ‘Camarada Cano’ (2019) and ‘La Ciudad del Progreso’ (2021) have been selected at film festivals in México, Colombia, Argentina and the United States.

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Director Statement

The city of Monterrey is well known for its stunning mountains and an industrial lifestyle, yet it is also one of the most polluted cities in Latin America. To anyone's surprise, this is a matter of no urgency for the authorities of the state of Nuevo León, who prefer to hold the citizenry accountable rather than take the blame for their own ineptitude and regulate the companies that, for decades, had damaged the quality of the air we breathe.

Worst of all, not even in a year of global crisis, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, have pollution levels in the city dropped, which seems to indicate that there is little hope for positive change in the health of its inhabitants whenever this is over. You’ll have to excuse me, but I can’t find a more delicate way to say it: the negligence, corruption and impunity of the state government are slowly killing us.

The City of Progress was made as part of Reto Docs 2020, an annual call of the International Documentary Film Festival of Mexico City, DocsMX, which consists of making a short documentary film in 100 hours. The corresponding theme was called “A new normality, a new future?” and proposed addressing the pandemic from our own experiences and, above all, based on our expectations for the year 2021.

Once with the theme revealed, I proposed the story of a polluted city in which, even with the pandemic, its pollution does not stop. My crew and I immediately gave way to the pre-production of the project and thought of locations that were conducive to illustrate the industriality of Monterrey and its intense pollution, as well as some luxurious areas that permeate a false illusion of progress, when in reality they only accentuate the inequality in which we live and, above all, the deterioration of our iconic mountains.

In this way, I like to think of the cinematography and the editing as a game of hide and seek with the mountains that, being a source of pride, are often overshadowed by the real estate and business sector; sound design accentuates this atmosphere of desolation and deterioration, as well as a city whose industrial life has no rest; finally, our interviewee, Guillermo Martínez Berlanga, one of the most distinguished voices in the environmental subject of Nuevo León, was the building block for the narrative to have a character that could embody the urgency, seriousness and call to action that is needed if we are to truly seek change.

While the pandemic is not over yet, it is clear to me that it will eventually end, what terrifies me is to think that our situation worsens because that industrial culture fostered by the business sector and that is part of the pride of the citizens of Monterrey is the reason for our current unhealthy environment. This environmental dystopia we are experiencing in Monterrey is rather an echo of what is happening on a global scale, because those in power are the only ones who can reverse this unfortunate situation about climate change and yet prefer to do nothing about it, ensuring a legacy of death for future generations.

This documentary does not offer a happy ending because, if so, it would be very dishonest and irresponsible with the reality that we live in, but rather seeks to generate a dialogue that for many may be uncomfortable but that is essential in the construction of a prosperous tomorrow. Because despite everything, I think this is still possible.