The earthquake of September 19 left me shaken but unharmed in my Mexico City hotel. Others were not so lucky. Hard hit was the Permanencia Voluntaria Film Archive in Tepoztlán, an hour or so outside Mexico City. The invaluable archive is dedicated to very neglected fare: the rich heritage of Mexican popular film, especially the unique genres of wrestling movies and fichera (showgirl) features.
Syrian Cellphone Documentaries
Rithy Panh’s Exiles
Emiko Omori’s Camera Eye
Virtual Reality: Beyond the Platform
Casting JonBenet, Multiple Maniacs,
Their Finest, The Jewel and the Crown,
Bellas de noche, Plaza del la Soledad
Reports from True/False, Full Frame, Orphans
By happy coincidence, Mexico in 2016 yielded two expert and moving documentaries on women, sex, and aging: María José Cuevas’s Bellas de noche (Beauties of the Night) and Maya Goded’s Plaza de la Soledad (Solitude Square). Both are first-time features by female directors. And both are attempts to reclaim previously neglected subjects: showgirls of the 1970s and sex workers in their seventies, respectively. Moreover, lengthy production processes in which the filmmakers cohabitated with their subjects have resulted in films that are clearly love letters to their protagonists.
Eleven years after its launch, the Morelia International Film Festival (Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia, FICM) is still Mexico’s most vibrant venue for both up-and-coming and established filmmakers.
Paul Julian Smith writes about the Guadalajara International Film Festival, discussing The Prize and Windows to the Sea
Writing in the Spring issue, Jonathan Rosenbaum referred to a process whereby film culture, after a 1960s consensus, “splintered into academia and journalism, which often lamentably functioned as mutually indifferent or sometimes even mutually hostile institutions”
With Pan’s Labyrinth, however, writer-director Guillermo del Toro has built on his proven skills in fantasy (Hellboy in 2004) and Spanish history (The Devil’s Backbone from 2001) to produce a work that is at once a logical development of his artistic trajectory and a wholly unexpected masterpiece from a director identified with such low-status genres as horror