It would be naive to speak of a breakout moment for Mexican cinema when the country has been an unstoppable cinematic force for the better part of the millennium, but one fundamental piece of the puzzle continues to elude the vast majority of young filmmakers working in Mexico today: audiences. Indeed, an armful of the gold and silver plants and animals that constitute film awards the world over (Golden Palm, Silver Bear, Spondylus), still can’t guarantee that anybody will actually see your film outside of the very small circle of specialists and connoisseurs that frequent the international festival circuit.
But thanks to a small but dedicated group of advocates, including Carlos Gutiérrez of Cinema Tropical, the proverbial needle may be slowly moving toward better distribution and exhibition platforms for the world-class films coming out of both Mexico and Latin America at large. This week, a young Mexican programmer, documentary filmmaker and Uniondocs vet by the name of Sebastián Díaz is throwing his hat into the ring with Proyector an ambitious film series that will be running throughout the spring and fall at the illustrious Maysles Institute theater in Harlem, New York City.
Divided into two programs, the first installment will focus on the work of a few of the groundbreaking filmmakers associated with the Mexico City-based Axolote Cine production company. While previous programs like Cinema Tropical’s “GenMex” series stressed the diversity of production coming out of the country, Díaz takes his program, entitled Micro-Symphonies, the Films of Axolote Cine, a step further by looking for common formal or thematic threads shared amongst these films. In the case of the Axolote troupe, Díaz stresses a hybrid fiction/non-fiction aesthetic and use of non-actors that ultimately emphasizes “form over content.” The fall series, Digging Roots of a Denied Civilization, will focus on visions of indigenous Mexico and will feature films by Raúl Cuesta, Everardo González and even Díaz himself.
After each screening, the filmmakers will be in attendance (physically or electronically) to discuss their work with a guest moderator and field questions from the audience. Films will screen on the first Thursday of each month, so be sure to mark your iCalendars.
Here are the four films showing as part of Program 1: Micro-Symphonies, the Films of Axolote Cine
One day. The old man walks the streets of the city, daily life goes on. Memories beset the man’s guilt leads him, the pain takes shape. The old man goes on his way to the end, as life continues its strange path.
Playing on April 7th at 7:30pm.
The small family formed by photographers Gerardo Barroso, Lisa Tillinger and their baby moved to the noisy and full of life López Street, in historic downtown of Mexico City. Everyday-life at the place seemed worthy of a documentary, so they began to follow transients with their camera. The result is a kind of “urban symphony” in black and white, through which street vendors, mendicants and taqueros parade portraying Mexican society as a microcosm.
Playing on May 2nd at 7:30pm.
Mosca is a night shift cab driver, a widower and father of two girls. Between his daily job and the memories of his wife, he tries to figure out his role as a father. Mosca mixes sleep and vigil to put up with her loss. Mosca is the tale of disenchantment of a whole generation; it’s also, and above all, an unusual and powerful love story.
A young man with a backpack walks all on his own into the endless Mexican cactus desert. He takes some peyote. How does he get out again? Pure cinema in the long-take tradition of Lisandro Alonso or Gus Van Sant.