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A nation muses in ‘Hecho en Mexico’

Actor Diego Lun(right) documentary 'Hecho en Mexico' (2012)

Actor Diego Luna (right) in in the documentary "Hecho en Mexico" (2012)

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Pantelion Films presents a documentary directed by Duncan Bridgeman. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated R (for some language, sexual references and brief drug use). Opening Friday at AMC Cicero 14.

Updated: January 15, 2013 6:13AM

Imagine creating a doc­umentary portrait of contemporary Mexico, featuring the nation’s greatest musicians, actors, writers and intellectuals — without identifying any of the artists as they perform or speak onscreen.

That’s the curse — though some consider it the beauty — of “Hecho en Mexico,” a stunningly photographed film that attempts to take the nation’s pulse and reflect the country’s concerns through song.

If you’re a follower of Latin pop/rock and Mexican regional music, then “Hecho en Mexico” is a must-see, with performances by Ru­ben Albarran and Emmanuel del Real of Cafe Tacuba, Lila Downs, Alejandro Fernandez, Julieta Venegas, Natalia Lafourcade, Kinky, Molotov, Camilo Lara, Mono Blanco, Chavela Vargas, Banda Limon, Los Tucanes de Tijuana and more.

Structured into 11 chapters, “Hecho en Mexico” tackles issues on the po­litical (globalization, the border) and personal (identity, spirituality) spectrums. As writers and intellectuals hold forth, their interviews are intercut with songs that reflect the themes being addressed. But if you don’t know Elena Poniatowska (the pioneering journalist-activist) from Ponchito (the popular character created by comic Andres Bustamante), you’ll be mostly lost.

However, director Dun­can Bridgeman delivers candid, intimate footage that pulls the viewer through the confusion. Among the best segments: a pregnant Julieta Venegas musing on the future of her unborn child and ranchera great Chavela Vargas, who died in August, reflecting on the mystery of life. It’s a mesmerizing film but you might need to wait until the final credits to figure out its own mysteries.

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