Hijos de la guerra

A man withdraws to an empty beach to smoke a cigaA man withdraws to an empty beach to smoke aHijos de la Guerra (“Children of the War”) is a feature-length documentary film about the world’s largest and most violent street gang: the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. The MS-13 gang spans the Americas with an estimated membership of 100,000 people across the United States and Central America. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has declared the MS-13 the fastest growing and most violent street gang in the United States. The Mara Salvatrucha was formed in Los Angeles in the late 1980s by Salvadoran Civil War refugees as a means to protect themselves from rival ethnic gangs. The newly formed gang channeled the widespread trauma of a genocidal civil war on entire generations of orphaned and abandoned children into fanatical violence. This formed the basis for MS’s explosive growth. MS-13 has since become a growing threat throughout 33 states in the U.S. and in every country in Central America. The institution of systematic and increasingly stern U.S. deportation policies, along with forceful Salvadoran armed repression of the members, has radicalized the group. Instead of tempering the gang’s influence, these policies have propelled the gang into a powerful, aggressive and multiplying force that seems increasingly difficult to control. Through a series of over 80 interviews (including gang members across several countries, the gang’s founders, experts and academics) and powerful footage inside jails in El Salvador, gang-infested neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and Salvadoran communities across the East Coast of the United States, the film sheds light on the root personal reasons for gang membership, the ensuing explosion of fratricidal violence as well as the complex role of social and government policy in both containing and aggravating gang proliferation. Hijos de la Guerra (“Children of the War”) is the first feature-length documentary film to tell the story of the MS-13. It addresses the causes and circumstances that have fueled this gang’s ominous rise to power.

United States, United Kingdom

Non-European Documentary

Runtime 01:30:00

Directed by
Alexandre Fuchs, Samantha Belmont, Jeremy Fourteau