Sunday, Apr 29 at 7:30 pm
Presented with Proyector. Screening to be followed by discussion with Director Natalia Almada
UnionDocs is excited to welcome back Proyector for a screening of filmmaker Natalia Almada’s EL GENERAL. The screening, a co-presentation with Women Make Movies and Cinema Tropical, and will be in anticipation for the release of the U.S. Theatrical Premiere of Almada’s debut narrative film.
Past and present collide in this extraordinarily well crafted documentary when Almada brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother. These recordings feature Alicia Calles’ reminiscences about her own father—Natalia’s great-grandfather—General Plutarco Elías Calles, a revolutionary general who became president of Mexico in 1924. In his time, Calles was called “El Bolshevique” and “El Jefe Máximo”, or “the foremost chief”. Today, he remains one of Mexico’s most controversial figures, illustrating both the idealism and injustices of the country’s history.
Through Alicia’s voice, this visually stunning, stylistically innovative film moves between the conflicting memories of a daughter grappling with her remembrances of her father and his violent public legacy. It draws exceptional strength from meticulously edited audio, haunting photographs, archival newsreels, and old Hollywood films, combined with an original evocative soundtrack, sweeping footage of modern-day Mexico City, and interviews with today’s working poor. EL GENERAL is a poetic and cinematic exploration of historical judgment, and a complex, arresting portrait of a family and country living under the shadows of the past.
Broadcast on P.O.V.’s 2010 Season on PBS
Sundance Film Festival, Directing Award: US Documentary
Cine Las Americas, Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature
“Beautifully detailed and captivating.”
Seattle Film Festival
“An extraordinarily courageous way to delve into the origins from which you come.”
All Water Has a Perfect Memory
Natalia Almada, 19 min., 2001
ALL WATER HAS A PERFECT MEMORY is a poignant experimental documentary that explores the effects of tragedy and remembrance on a bi-cultural family. At seven months old, filmmaker Natalia Almada lost her two-year-old sister, Ana Lynn, in a drowning accident at her childhood home in Mexico. Inspired by an essay written by Toni Morrison, in which she speaks of the Mississippi River’s ability to conjure memories, this moving piece serves as a meditation on the cultural and gender differences between the filmmaker’s North American mother and Mexican father in the face of their daughter’s death. Through personal recollections narrated by each family member, including her brother, Almada incorporates Super-8 home movies, photographs and fabricated images to weave together a touching and moving visual memory of Ana Lynn.
Natalia Almada, 83 min., 2009
A glimpse into the life of the Mexican President.
Recipient of the 2012 MacArthur “Genius” Award, Natalia Almada combines artistic expression with social inquiry to make films that are both personal reflections and critical social commentaries. Her work straddles the boundaries of documentary, fiction, and experimental film. Her most recent film Todo lo demás (Everything Else) is a narrative feature starring Academy Award-nominated Adriana Barraza; it premiered at the New York Film Festival and was nominated for a Mexican Academy Award. El Velador (The Night Watchman) premiered at the 2011 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and broadcast on the award-winning PBS program POV, along with her other two feature documentaries Al otro lado (To The Other Side) and El General (The General). Almada’s short film All Water Has a Perfect Memory premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and received the Best Documentary Short award at the Tribeca Film Festival. Almada was the recipient of the 2009 Best Documentary Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, USA Artists, The Herb Alpert Foundation, and MacDowell Colony. Almada graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives between Mexico City and San Francisco.
Sebastian Diaz is a Mexican filmmaker and film programmer based in New York. He was a fellow at UnionDocs Collaborative Studio, Brooklyn 2013, where he directed ‘Toñita’s’ (MoMA Documentary Fortnight 2014). He co-directed ‘Brilliant Soil’ (Material Culture & Archeology Film Prize at 13th RAI International Fest of Ethnographic Film, Edinburgh 2011). Sebastian photographed and edited the documentary ‘Tijuaneados Anonymous’ (Ambulante Festival 2010; Best local film at San Diego Latino Film Festival). He cofounded ‘Bulbo Art Collective’, which produced a documentary series broadcast in US and Mexico about Tijuana/San Diego border culture (Channels 22 & Univision). His work has been exhibited at ARCO (Madrid), The MAK Museum (Vienna), InSite_05 (Tijuana San Diego), among others. He curates contemporary Mexican films at several venues in New York City.
Melissa Saucedo is documentary filmmaker from Northeast Mexico. She moved to New York City with The Fulbright Scholarship in 2011. Her documentary, The Coalmen, about the harsh working conditions of coal miners in Mexico, was awarded at Monterrey International Film Festival in 2010. In NYC, she worked for brief periods at the production company Quit Pictures, POV – television’s longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films, and UnionDocs. As an independent filmmaker she focuses on issues of health, gender, education, and immigration. She holds a MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College, CUNY, and a MS in Communications and BA in Marketing from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico.