Brimstone & Glory

Down in Tultepec, fireworks are a sacrament and the medics are always standing by.

What if you could have all the fiery eye candy of Burning Man without, y’know, all the fucking Burners? It happens in a place that will hopefully never become a high-end tourist destination like Black Rock City: the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico. As seen in Viktor Jakovleski’s all-killer-no-filler documentary Brimstone & Glory, Tultepec’s economy and culture are geared toward fireworks, particularly the building and burning of giant spindly castles on the festival’s first night. (Don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning.)

The second night is a parade of huge papier-mâché bulls, some with huge giant papier-mâché balls and some without, and all of which shoot sparks and fire. This often causes permanent and sometimes lethal damage to the fleshy humans, but it’s how Tultepec celebrates San Juan de Dios, patron saint of firework-makers. As one local puts it, “The scars on our skin represent the moment when the saint comes and pulls us from the fire.” (But going to the Playa to do drugs and get laid? Yeah, that’s cool too, broheim.) The 67-minute Brimstone & Glory is many things: ruthlessly economical, mesmerizing to look at, and downright vertiginous when scaling a castle while wearing a helmet-cam. It’s also a strong argument for a Mexican remake of Asghar Farhadi’s Fireworks Wednesday.

Brimstone & Glory
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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