[Local events] Fwd [film]: Excavations of Mexico, Jesse Lerner, 5/20-21

David Abel passages at rdrop.com
Mon May 19 00:30:17 PDT 2008


Cinema Project and the Northwest Film Center present

Excavations of Mexico: Jesse Lerner in Person


Tuesday & Wednesday, May 20-21
7:30 pm

Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum
1219 S.W. Park Ave.

$7.00 / $6.00 museum members


Tuesday, May 20th

Sunday Afternoon in the Valley of Mexico by Garrison Films [1940s, 16mm, 
b&w, sound, 10 min]
Natives by Jesse Lerner and Scott Sterling [1991, 16mm, b&w, sound, 26 
min.]
Home movies [1940s, 16mm, color, silent, 10 min]
Magueyes by Rueben Gamez [1962, 35mm, b&w, sound, 8 min]
Magnavoz by Jesse Lerner [2007, 16mm, b&w, sound, 25 min]


Wednesday, May 21st

Indians of Mexico [1930s, 16mm, b&w, silent, 10 min]
Ruins by Jesse Lerner [1999, 16mm, b&w, sound, 77 min]


These two programs bring together the experimental documentaries of Los 
Angeles-based professor/writer/curator Jesse Lerner, whose films often 
mix original material with found imagery and sounds, and related rare 
films from the archives of Lerner's production company The American Egypt.

The films reflect on Mexico, its image abroad, its troubled relationship 
with the United States, and the pre-Columbian civilizations that thrived 
in Mesoamerica before the Spanish Conquest.


Notes on the films:

Sunday Afternoon in the Valley of Mexico is a nationalist spectacle 
staged in a stadium and the pretext for this propagandistic tribute to 
an emergent Mexican modernity.

In Natives, the U.S.-Mexico border is the site of a disturbing increase 
in violence and racial intolerance. Along the border, there are now a 
number of nativist groups that have organized with the stated purpose of 
ending undocumented immigration.  "Natives" follows the individuals 
involved in the San Diego anti-immigration movement.  Relying 
principally on a direct cinema style and an eye for the absurd, the film 
critiques the nativist position by contrasting their professed love of 
country with their racist and anti-democratic attitudes.

Home Movies documents a North American family's travels by rail through 
Mexico.

Magueyes by Ruben Gamez animates that icon of mexicanidad, the agave, by 
sending the plants off to a civil war.

Lerner's newest work, Magnavoz, is an experimental adaptation of Xavier 
Icaza's speculative rant on the future of post-revolutionary Mexico. 
Bringing together noisy broadcasts from atop the volcanoes, raucous 
bacchanalia at popular watering holes and a series of apocalyptic, 
hypernationalistic pronouncements, the meditation is timely and 
prescient, though it was written more than eighty years ago.

Indians of Mexico is a silent educational documentary.

In Ruins, counterfeiting is a practice with broad and devious 
implications, from the merest of fake objects to entire histories shaped 
as facsimile. Jesse Lerner's provocative 'Ruins' takes the forger's art 
and applies it to the appropriation of culture, in this case, 
Mexican.The prologue to this wizardly jumble of newsreel snippets, 
travelogia, and stagy rants collates early colonial misconceptions of 
Mexico's populace, a stewpot of ethnographic and political distortions. 
 From there, Lerner charts the rarefaction of this process that 
recontextualizes archeological objects as art. In this cultural 
valuation, Mayan and Aztec objects are severed from their origins and 
further rarefied within the confines of museums. At the center of 
'Ruins' is Brigido Lara, a master forger whose 'Pre-Columbian' objects 
have been displayed in major (and unwitting) museums throughout the U.S. 
and Europe. Is this the final subterfuge of the colonial project----the 
real and the fake, indistinguishable? 'Ruins' builds a diverting 
argument from the (imitation) detritus of culture




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