Mexican lucha libre (literally “free struggle”) is a variant of the transnational entertainment genre known in English as professional wrestling. It is an American import that was first brought to Mexico in the early 1930s but quickly developed into a distinctly Mexican cultural form.
The concept is basic and universally recognizable. There is a good guy versus a bad guy; then throw in a referee that is either corrupt, inept or otherwise oblivious to the injustices committed within the match. These events are characterized by rapid sequences of holds and moves, as well as high-flying moves and identified through the use of costumes and mass. The mask symbolizes the mystique of lucha libre itself, and wrestlers make a serious commitment never to be seen unmasked. The mask is his identity. It defines him and what it is he stands for in this world. His face exposed, the wrestler might retain his charisma, or his career might collapse.
Lucha libre is a significant aspect of Mexican society and can be understood as a cultural performance that sits on the border between sports, theater and ritual. The colorful spectacle informs us about (and at the same time challenges) questions of values, collective imaginations and gender discourses. It is often described as a social drama, a collaboration between the wrestlers and the spectators. It is a special world in which the audience doesn’t question, but experiences the show.
Masked is a documentary project that explores the melodramatic universe of luche libre in Tijuana, away from the arenas of Mexico City, and in constant dialogue with its history as the largest and busiest border-crossing city in Mexico.