In case you missed the first program of Sebastián Díaz’s Proyector film series, you still have enough time to catch the second part of this momentous showcase of contemporary Mexican cinema. Granted, this fall’s four films have very little to do with the artistically-minded docu-fiction hybrids that characterized last spring’s survey of Axolote Cine, but it will definitely continue building on the series’ thoughtful reflection on the state of representation in Mexican film.

Screening through December at Harlem’s renowned Maysles Cinema, the upcoming program has been titled Digging the Roots of a Denied Civilization, and takes on a handful of documentaries that provide diverse visions of indigenous life in 21st century Mexico. With a collective pedigree that includes prizes at the Morelia, Los Angeles, and Raindance Film Festivals, these four films promise to give a nuanced and surprising look into the state of indigenous life in a country that has tended to erase, discredit, or romanticize these narratives.

The four films in Digging the Roots also display a special connection to nature as they take on themes of family, identity, and aging, with stories of drought, poison, and daily struggle. Here’s a list of the films New York audiences can look forward to seeing starting this weekend.

Proyector Program 2: Digging the Roots of a Denied Civilization starts on November 8 at the Maysles Cinema and runs through December 13, 2015.

1

Silvestre Pantaleón

Country Mexico
Production Year 2011

Silvestre Pantaleón plays at the Maysles Cinema on November 8, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

Synopsis

An elderly artisan from a Nahuatl-speaking village in the state of Guerrero struggles to scrape together enough money to pay for a religious ceremony and provide for his family.

Andrew S. Vargas

Film Details

Director Roberto Olivares Jonathan Amith
Country Mexico
Genre Documentary
Writer Roberto Olivares Jonathan Amith
Producer Jonathan Amith
Production Year 2011
Running Time 65 minutes
2

Tierra Brillante

Country Mexico
Production Year 2011

 Tierra Brillante (Brilliant Soil) plays at the Maysles Cinema on November 15, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

Synopsis

An indigenous Purépecha potter rejects the widespread use of poisonous lead in the glazes used by her community’s artisans, and adopts a healthier lead-free alternative in order to ensure the safety of herself and her family. Still, she must face the difficult task of selling her pieces in order to achieve her dream of reuniting the family.

Andrew S. Vargas

Film Details
Brilliant Soil
Director Sebastián Díaz José Luis Figueroa
Country Mexico
Genre Documentary
Writer Sebastián Díaz José Luis Figueroa Lorena Fuentes
Producer Omar Foglio Ana Paola Rodríguez
Production Year 2011
Running Time 93 minutes
3

Rehje

Country Mexico
Production Year 2009

Rehje plays at the Maysles Cinema on December 6, 2015 at 7:30pm.

Synopsis

After living for many years outside of her native pueblo, an indigenous Mazahua woman takes journeys back to her hometown over two hours away from Mexico City. When she arrives, the woman encounters a desolate landscape ravaged by drought, and a deep sense of alienation.

Andrew S. Vargas

Film Details

Director Raúl Cuesta Anaïs Huerta
Country Mexico
Genre Documentary
Writer Anaïs Huerta
Producer Anaïs Huerta
Production Year 2009
Running Time 67 minutes
4

Cuates de Australia

Country Mexico
Production Year 2011

Cuates de Australia plays at the Maysles Cinema on December 13, 2015 at 7:30pm.

Synopsis

A small rural town in Mexico’s arid northeast is plagued not only by endemic poverty and systemic neglect, but also by a persistent drought that has left many residents with no choice but to leave for more opportunities. Meanwhile, for those who stay, life is a constant struggle: without water, animals die and babies are born dehydrated. But Cuates de Australia is a portrait of a community that somehow carries on despite the natural and social forces that would see them leave.

Andrew S. Vargas

Film Details

Director Evarardo González
Country Mexico
Genre Documentary
Writer Evarardo González
Producer Martha Orozco
Production Year 2011
Running Time 90 minutes