For young men in Mexico who are desperate to escape a life of poverty and lack of prospects, often the only option is to find work in organisations characterised by violence – either the illegal ones to be found in the drug trade, or in the military. Since his mother is ill and in need of expensive medication, 18-year-old Luis – who has Indigenous roots – opts for the latter. The national military academy, or “Heroico Colegio Militar”, is steeped in tradition. Here, Luis experiences an extremely rigorous training programme built upon unconditional obedience and the breaking of an individual’s personality. When he receives further lessons in cruelty and criminal machinations from the sadistic Sergeant Serra, the rift between his responsibility to his mother and his own values pushes him to his limits.
Based on personal accounts of the experiences of former cadets at the military academy, David Zonana’s Heroico depicts a world that is unknown to many. In an impressive mixture of clear-cut static images and powerful tracking shots, he attempts to fathom the close relationship between male identity and institutionalised violence in Mexico.
by David Zonana
with Santiago Sandoval Carbajal, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica del Carmen, Esteban Caicedo, Isabel Yudice, Carlos Gerardo García
Mexico / Sweden 2023 Spanish 88’ Colour European premiere


  • Santiago Sandoval Carbajal (Luis Núñez)
  • Fernando Cuautle (Eugenio Sierra)
  • Mónica del Carmen (Yanin)
  • Esteban Caicedo (Mario)
  • Isabel Yudice (Andrea)
  • Carlos Gerardo García (Ratón)


Director David Zonana
Screenplay David Zonana
Cinematography Carolina Costa
Editing Oscar Figueroa Jara
Music Murcof
Sound Design Erik Clauss
Sound Raúl Locatelli
Production Design Ivonne Fuentes
Costumes Gabriela Fernández
Casting Eduardo Giralt Brun
Assistant Director Matías Estévez
Producers Michel Franco, David Zonana, Eréndira Núñez Larios
Executive Producers José Nacif, Marco Polo Constandse
Co-Producers Jonas Kellagher, Kristina Börjeson
Co-Production CommonGround Pictures Götheborg
Film i Väst Götheborg
Filmadora Mexico City
CTT Exp & Rentals Mexico City

World sales

Produced by


David Zonana

Born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1989. He began working as a producer of films including 600 Miles, which screened in the 2015 Panorama, before moving into directing. His feature film debut Workforce premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, went on to become the most internationally awarded Mexican film of 2019 and also won the Ariel Award in Mexico in the categories of Best First Film and Best Actor.


2014 Princesa; short film 2016 Sangre alba; short film 2017 Brother; short film 2019 Workforce 2023 Heroico (Heroic)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023