12 user 18 critic

Backyard (2009)

El Traspatio (original title)
The true story of the border town of Juarez, Mexico where since the mid-1990s thousands of women have gone missing or turned up as sun-burnt corpses in the desert. Can new police captain Blanca Bravo stop the savagery?


Carlos Carrera


Sabina Berman (screenplay), Sabina Berman
9 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Ana de la Reguera ... Blanca
Asur Zagada ... Juana Sanchez
Marco Pérez ... Fierro
Ivan Cortes Ivan Cortes ... Cutberto
Joaquín Cosio ... Peralta
Alejandro Calva ... Comandante
Jimmy Smits ... Mickey Santos
Carolina Politi ... Sara
Amorita Rasgado Amorita Rasgado ... Márgara
Enoc Leaño ... Gobernador
Adriana Paz Adriana Paz ... Hilda
Lisa Owen ... Silvia
Sayed Badreya ... El Sultán
Juan Carlos Barreto ... Alvarez
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paloma Arredondo ... Elvia


An astonishing fictional account of the unending series of murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which began in 1996. Most of the victims are low-paid laborers who have been drawn to the town by the possibility of work at American-owned factories. In the film Mexican police officer Blanca Bravo is sent to Cuidad Juarez to investigate and comes to learn realities of these women's lives, as well as the truth about a police force and local power structure embodied by entrepreneur Mickey Santos that has ceased to care. Written by Human Rights Watch Film Festival

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Spanish | Tzotzil | English

Release Date:

20 February 2009 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Traspatio See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film was widely marketed and released in Mexico bearing the English title "Backyard". Its Spanish translation, "El traspatio", was used as an extension of the title, for the sake of clarification. See more »


In the scenes located in Juarez Avenue, it can be seen "transborde" buses and a big led screen with publicity. Those were activated in late 2006. (The story occurs on 1996) See more »

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User Reviews

A comment on another review, amongst other things
14 February 2012 | by amyjulioSee all my reviews

One reviewer wrote that this movie is set in the "small" Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez, bordering the United States. Actually, Ciudad Juarez has approximately 1.3 million residents. While not the size of New York City or Los Angeles by any means, "small" town is hardly an appropriate description. FYI, Ciudad Juarez is only separated from El Paso, TX and a short stretch of Sunland Park/Anapra, NM by a narrow river, the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo, as it is commonly known on the Mexican side). If seen from overhead it looks like one city. Many parts of Juarez are modern, Westernized-metro areas with shopping centers, U.S. fast-food chains, and an international airport. Together, the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez metropolitan area is populated by approximately 2.5 million people.

However, from Interstate 10 on the West Side of El Paso which parallels the river, the differences between the cities are quite evident. A typical U.S. metropolitan infrastructure can be seen on this side of the river, while shanty towns made of pallets and corrugated metal roofs can be seen on the other side. The sight is profound, sad, and all too real. When one grows up in an environment like that, one tends to have a different perspective of the U.S. and what "first world" really means. Most U.S. citizens don't ever confront those issues first hand, on a regular basis. We Southern Border Folk are exposed, directly or indirectly to a poverty that is severe, harsh, and very different from what U.S. poverty is typically known to be.

That severe poverty crosses over into the more rural border regions of the U.S. which are classified by the U.S. government as "Colonias", which are areas of the U.S. without the typical U.S. infrastructure that most U.S. Citizens take for granted (like electricity, natural gas, or running water). When you live in these regions, raised in them, compassion to those dealing with and escaping from this poverty becomes a part of you. Physical and geographical distance from that reality makes the heart less compassionate and the brain less understanding. That's why i believe most of us U.S. citizens tend to think politically before thinking humanely when involving border issues. We're mainly exposed to the "third world" through television; not driving to work, or shopping for groceries, or going to school.

Now there is undoubtedly extreme poverty scattered throughout the United States. Many citizens of Native-American communities and reservations live far below the U.S. poverty level. Pockets of what can be considered "third world" poverty exist especially in various regions of the South and in Appalachia, for example. These are areas like the "Colonias" where infrastructure is not systematic, but self-sufficiently innovated and "out-of-code", "off-the-grid", and not in that cool, tech-savvy, environmentally-progressive way. The difference between those areas and the "Colonias", besides the general ethnic background of the people (the aforementioned areas tend to be primarily White-Americans {or Americans of European descent}, and African-Americans) is that the "Colonias" encompass a much larger and concentrated geographical area as well as a much larger population of impoverished citizens than those scattered throughout the rest of the U.S.

These "Colonias" which exist from Texas all the way to California, and whose populations all together make up a few million, are real. The vast majority are of Mexican descent, though of course there are also smaller percentages of White-Americans, African-Americans, and Central-Americans. Many are "illegal", though most are legal citizens born and raised in the United States. "Third world" poverty exists in these regions of the U.S., make no mistake. These people constantly strive to be self sufficient. They don't expect hand outs. They don't expect government programs to save them as the politicians often describe them. But they are stuck between survival and laws and codes. Sometimes laws and codes can prevent immediate survival. The corruption between the corporate and political partnerships between the U.S. and Mexico, the laws and codes regarding construction, and land ownership and/or distribution controls their access to clean drinking water and proper waste management. As these regions therefore have a population that makes little money, the public school systems that do manage to exist there suffer greatly and can't offer education that rivals the high earning and supposedly higher tax paying metropolitan areas of our country. These complex issues keep them from being able to sustain themselves, much less plan ahead and progress.

The Capital cities of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California only throw pennies towards their Southern borders. The money stays near the Capitals, where the streets are paved and the schools have college prep courses and highly educated, and the highest paid teachers. It's hard not to view some of this oppression as systematic, as planned politics in order to keep a lack of "legal" control in a region in order to aid the criminal, corrupt entities to work in the shadows, with the citizens' eyes not focused on them because their eyes are fixed on the priority of daily survival. As these citizens continue to be ignored, their voices dismissed and their plight for survival repressed, the Southern border of the U.S. will continue to crumble, through an oppression that breeds desperation that will only feed social unrest and revolution. This corruption between the two governments creates a void of leadership which is then filled by the black market; by criminal entities that create for themselves an alternative to the severe poverty of the region. Those entities become wealthy, which then become exploitative, threatening, violent, and powerful. But the key word is wealthy, the alternative to poverty, which becomes tempting to those who are most desperate. As the two governments shake hands and exchange "legal" treaties, contracts, and money, they ostracize their constituencies, they're citizens, leaving them exposed to the "illegal" elements which are only to happy to embrace them.


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