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by on July 19, 2012
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Click here for showtimes and complete details for Indy Film Fest 2012!

My favorite of the short films in competition at this year’s Indy Film Fest, “Narcocorrido” is tense, harrowing and utterly mesmerizing. The tale of a drug heist gone bad — with a sympathetic female cop as the heavy — feels like a much grander story tapestry, of which writer/director Ryan Prows is only showing us a small slice.

The officer (Nicki Micheaux) waits in her patrol car on a dusty border town road. She has just finished retching her guts out into the dry scrub. Is she seriously ill? Nervous about what is soon to unfold? It’s left deliberately vague.

She stops a panel truck, orders the two Mexican occupants out and forces them to kneel. One is nervous and apologetic; the other is eerily calm and speaks only Spanish. Then she covers her face with a mask, and it’s clear this is a planned hit.

But then things go seriously wrong. A gun battle erupts — expertly and effectively staged — and the night holds only tragic outcomes.

The brisk 24-minute short film is bookended by an odd mariachi band performance with a familiar featured performer. The music is gay and festive until Prows supplies us with a translation of the Machiavellian tale the singer is telling.

“Narcocorrido” is like a mini-epic. It’s possible this is the sort of short film that exists to draw interest for a feature-length version of this story. That’s perfectly valid — “Sling Blade” and the animated film “9” both came about that way. But the movie also has a sense of completeness as is.

4.5 Yaps