New York has historically been a mecca of experimental film production, with luminaries like Jonas Mekas and Kenneth Anger proudly calling the city home for the better part of their careers. It has also been an inspiration for more than a few progressive LGBT artists, who found in the gritty, dimly-lit streets of New York past an environment that nurtured free expression and avant-garde ideals. Out of this cultural effervescence was born the MIX NYC, a.k.a. the New York Queer Experimental Film Festival, which for 26 years has featured the work of groundbreaking artists from Oscar-nominated Todd Haynes to documentary film director Jennie Livingston.
Going into its 27th edition, this year’s MIX NYC kicks off today with a diverse, internationally-minded line up and topical programs addressing everything from disability to trans-identity and beyond. Here’s a roundup of some Latin American films to look out for.
MIX NYC runs November 11 – 16, 2014.
Helio Oiticica was one of the artists that most united reflection with artistic creation. His ideas and propositions, expressed not only in texts but also in statements and interviews, revolutionized art and culture, transforming him into one of the most important artists of the second half of the twentieth century. The documentary by Cesar Oiticica Filho, by using the voice of the artist as a narrative thread, permits a unique immersion into the thought and intimacy of Helio Oiticica.
Set in 21st century Argentina, “more or less,” Cine Tomado follows Juan, JJ, Ale, and a circle of friends as they make plans to quit their jobs and hijack an abandoned movie theater, laid barren by Argentina’s debt crisis and a new age of digital media. Its frantic pace, complete with mid-film cast changes and loosely related story arcs, exudes the joy of the process of experimental filmmaking.
An interracial gay relationship rouses the ghosts of colonialism in the Casa Forte neighborhood of Recife, Brazil. While the narrator speaks of his relationship, images play of various local landmarks whose names bare overt references to plantations, slaves and slave traders. These modern iterations of the region’s exploited history entice a colonial mentality out of the community, who see the biracial pair through the lenses of fetish and desire. These two competing stories are put in dialogue with each other, creating a complicated analysis of the haunting power of colonial institutions.
Estudo em vermelho
A post-modern curation of iconicities, and how they are manufactured. A visually familiar pool of blood blossoms from the head of a man on the floor. A somber, non-descript #science guy you’ve seen before automatically commands authority. As the cliché goes, these images speak volumes before they’ve even said a word, referentially invoking the dogma of modern image making. Later on, the camera pulls away to reveal a labyrinthian team of meaning-makers. Hyper-referentiality and surface-level recognizability belie this work’s more opaque intentions.
A road movie and a fairy tale, through the home footage of Black Aurora and Margot K, two experimental drag queens lost in conservative Medellín, Colombia. More than a journey, it is a transformation; or perhaps, a departure. The girls depart from girlhood, from boyhood, and from home. They become men in pools, queens in the woods, restless at night and murderers on the road. Chapters are introduced by storybook illustrations with a disorderly numerical memory. Sometimes run through a splitscreen mirror effect, their images are also simple shapes, merging and separating from themselves. When the girls finally make it to a new land, the city splits open before our eyes, a truly marvelous sight.