Heli, a Mexican film competing for the Palme d’Or from director Amat Escalante, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday. Heli is a gritty drama about the devastating impact drug violence has on a family in Mexico. The film made waves at the Festival due to its frank depiction of violence. One particular scene contained a graphic sequence in which a man gets his penis burned off. Some audience members were so shocked by the unforgiving violence that they walked out of the screening. Escalante stands by his film, defending what he believes is an honest portrayal of extremely violent current events. “If I’m going to show violence, I’m going to give it the weight it should have,” Escalante told reporters.

Heli certainly has people talking, a fact that makes Escalante and co-writer Gabriel Reyes proud. “It would be very socially irresponsible not to talk about those bad things that are happening in our country. I think if we never talk about the bad things then problems might never be solved,” said Reyes.

Heli is the only Latin American film in the competition for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It follows the story of what happens after a young girl falls in love with a police cadet, dragging the family into a drug war.