Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 pm
Conversation following the film with Pablo Álvarez Mesa & Juana Suárez
We are thrilled to bring you a super special screening of Bicentenario by Pablo Álvarez-Mesa!
Álvarez-Mesa’s explorations began with thinking about Independence Day in Colombia, celebrated on the 20th of July each year, especially in the context of its bicentennial celebrations in 2019. The third of three films, Bicentenario continues Mesa’s investigation of the journey of Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan military and political leader who led the movement that eventually secured Colombian independence in 1819.
Álvarez-Mesa calls the project “a political, environmental and cultural reflection” about Colombian Independence and Bolivar’s journey. This reflection is pieced together using a unique range of materials and strategies.
The film includes sounds of séances with women in Bogotá and the towns on Bolívar’s route as Álvarez-Mesa sought to reimagine the role of these practices as not merely paranormal, but as oral traditions of resistance against patriarchy and colonialism. He weaves in field interviews, vivid, archival materials as well as an expressive ambient soundscape. It is in Álvarez-Mesa’s hands that these seemingly distinct elements expertly fuse together, generating a rich and complex narrative that asks important questions about why, how and who celebrates Independence Day.
” My creative process involves doing research, filming, recording sound and editing material without a pre-established order, so that an action in one of these fields generates reactions in the others, constantly opening new creative routes.”
– Pablo Álvarez-Mesa in an interview with desistfilm in 2021.
Following the program, we are delighted to have the brilliant scholar, film critic, media archivist, and cultural producer Juana Suárez in attendance to be in a conversation with Álvarez-Mesa around the film.
This screening will kick off our 3-day workshop CONTESTED GROUND: LANDSCAPE AS TERRITORY led by Álvarez-Mesa, where we unpack the political nature of the landscapes we document and conduct a hands-on remapping of nonfiction film, audio, and art.
Bicentenario by Pablo Álvarez-Mesa
43 min., 2020, Spanish, Color
“On the 200th anniversary of Simon Bolivar’s liberation journey across Colombia, Bicentenario reflects on the far-reaching consequences of the liberator’s legacy, a legacy kept alive through a wide range of intentional and unintentional rituals of remembrance. Summoning Bolivar’s spirit in the exact landscapes that witnessed the battles, Bicentenario reveals the contemporary social rituals that perpetuate the ongoing violence residing deep within the social and political unconscious. Two hundred years after his campaign, Simon Bolivar’s spirit has become a mix of political mysticism, unquestioned doctrine, and enigma—or perhaps a curse that has fixed itself in the collective imaginary of an entire continent. It is this curse that Bicentenario seeks to invoke, and perhaps exorcise.”
– Pablo Álvarez Mesa
Pablo Álvarez Mesa is a filmmaker and cinematographer working mainly in documentary. His films have played at international film festivals including Berlinale, IFFR, Venice, Visions du Reel, and Anthology Film Archives. His interest in documentary lies in the relationship between fact and fiction; between what is recalled and what is inevitably constructed. His films all touch in one way or another issues of displacement, history and collective memory. He is an affiliate member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, an alumnus of Berlinale Talents, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canadian Film Centre and is artist in residence at Fogo Island Arts (2022).
Juana Suárez is a Latin American cinema scholar and a media preservation specialist. She is the Director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program (MIAP) at New York University. Author of Cinembargo Colombia: Critical Essays on Colombian Cinema (Spanish 2009, English translation 2012), and Sites of Contention: Cultural Production and the Discourse of Violence in Colombia; co-editor of Humor in Latin American Cinema (2015); translator to Spanish of A Comparative History of Latin American Cinema by Paul A. Schroeder-Rodríguez (2020). She is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Moving Images Archives, Cultural History and The Digital Turn in Latin America.
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