By now, we’ve all heard of Ambulante. If not for its groundbreaking, utopian itinerate film festival model, at least you’ve heard of it because of its founders: cuates-4-life Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. Since 2005, the charolastras and their team of close collaborators have been revolutionizing the relationship between documentary film and underserved communities, with pop-up screenings in underutilized spaces that bring a whole new democratic edge to the idea of the film festival.
But over the years, Gael, Diego, and the Ambulante team have shown the world they’re not content with just keeping things small. In addition to 12 states of the Mexican Republic, El Salvador, and Colombia, they recently expanded their Ambulante film screenings to the great state of California. So if you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, now would be a good time to mark your calendar – or better yet, clear your schedule – for September 19 – October 4, when Ambulante California is set to take over the U.S.’ second biggest city.
You might ask yourself what documentaries they’ll be screening. Well, unfortunately you’re going to have to wait until August 11 to catch Ambulante CA’s official announcement. But luckily, you read Remezcla, and we’ve managed to get a very special sneak peek at two of the docs that will make up this year’s official selection from Christine Davila, director of Ambulante CA.
First up is the Mexican feature Los reyes del pueblo que no existe (The Kings of Nowhere), helmed by first-time director Betzabé García, which proved to be quite the sensation when it hit the festival circuit at SXSW this year, where it picked up the Global Audience Award before going on to receive prizes at important festivals like Full Frame and Guadalajara.
This beautifully photographed documentary is loaded with metaphoric significance in its profile of the few remaining inhabitants of a small Sinaloa town submerged under water following the construction of a nearby dam. While some feel trapped, others firmly hold on to the only place they’ve ever called home.
Apparently, the folks at Ambulante also saw the opportunity to co-sign L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti’s progressive transportation policy. They’ll be presenting the multinational social issue doc Bikes vs. Cars, by Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten.
For those who couldn’t tell from the title, Bikes vs. Cars explores the explosion of urban biking across the world’s cities. Fixing his camera on the transportation cultures of Los Angeles, São Paulo, Toronto, and Copenhagen, Gertten shows us that the conflict between progressive, bike-friendly policies and the gas-guzzling old guard is actually fomented by deeply entrenched interests in the car, oil, and construction industries. Meanwhile, cyclists die every day in accidents caused by unsympathetic motorists.
Now we know you’re just dying to see the rest of the programming, and nothing is more excruciating than a week-long wait. But the good news is that you can be one of the first to find out. By spreading the news on your social media accounts via Ambulante CA’s Thunderclap Campaign, not only will you be doing your part to support innovative and socially conscious film programming, but you’ll also be in the know before just about anyone else. So sign up now and help spread the word.