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Mexperimental Cinema: 60 Years of Avant-Garde Media Arts from Mexico

Mexperimental Cinema is the first major exhibition to consider the history of Mexico’s alternative film and video practices. Guest curators Rita González and Jesse Lerner have collected firsthand accounts and combed Mexican archives to compile this substantial documentation of Mexican experimental cinema throughout the century. The result is a rich, dynamic, and wide-ranging survey of more than sixty years of innovation little known to audiences either within Mexico or abroad. Under different thematic axes, the organizers have brought together the work of several generations of artists who reflect diverse cinematic agendas and work in a variety of media formats—Super-8, 35mm, and 16mm film, and video. The series investigates the engagement of Mexican cinema with (and, at times, its estrangement from) the international avant-garde, its varied relationships to Mexican commercial film and television, and its liaisons with painting, performance, still photography, theater, caricature, ethnography, and other disciplines. Evaluated collectively, the films represent an often ignored face of Mexican national cinema.

Co-sponsored by the Consulate of Mexico in Boston

Special thanks to Juana Peruja at the Filmoteca de la UNAM

Co-Curator Rita González in person
January 21 (Friday) 7 pm

Program 1: Surveying the Terrain

The first program is designed to provide an overview of the eclecticism of the series as well as to demonstrate the curators’ broad conception of the term "experimental."

Humanidad (Humanity)

Directed by Adolfo Best Maugard
Mexico 1934, 35mm, b/w, 1 min. fragment



Directed by Rubén Gámez
Mexico 1962, 35mm, color, 12 min.


El despojo (The Dispossession)

Directed by Antonio Reynoso
Mexico 1958–60, 35mm, color, 12 min.


Untitled (Quiero ser un actor) (I Want to be an Actor)

Directed by Fernando Sampietro
Mexico 1970s, Super-8 on video, color, 3 min.


Desnudo desciende

Directed by Sylvia Gruner
Mexico 1986, Super-8 on video, 3 min.


Desnudo con alcatraces

Directed by Sylvia Gruner
Mexico 1986, Super-8 on video, 3 min.


Pecado Original Reproducción

Directed by Sylvia Gruner
Mexico 1986, Super-8 on video, 5 min.


El fin (The End)

Directed by Sergio García
Mexico 1970, Super-8 on video, 12 min.


Retrato de la generacion en crisis (Portrait of the Crisis Generation)

Directed by Roberto López
Mexico 1998, video, 8 min.


Medias mentiras (Half Lies)

Directed by Ximena Cuevas
Mexico 1994, video, 14 min.





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Co-Curator Rita González in person
January 22 (Saturday) 7 pm
January 31 (Monday) 9 pm

Program 2: Mexicanidad

A significant aspect of Mexican intellectualism considers the tragic dimensions of national identity, particularly the configuration of indigenous people as long-suffering and masochistic. In his book Cage of Melancholy (1987), critic Roger Bartra dissects the discourse on Mexican-ness and suggests that the characterizations of Indians and the poor as stoic or indifferent to their own misfortunes may function to normalize and maintain class disparities. The films and videos in the second program infuse the traditional signs of Mexicanidad with ironic humor and excess.

Corazón sangrante (Bleeding Heart)

Directed by Ximena Cuevas
Mexico 1995, video, 3 min.


La formula secreta (The Secret Formula)

Directed by Rubén Gámez
Mexico 1965, 35mm, 45 min.


Simón del desierto (Simon of the Desert)

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Mexico 1964, 35mm, b/w, 43 min.






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January 23 (Sunday) 6 pm

Program 3: The City

The rural/urban axis is central to Mexican film, echoing massive internal migrations and the transformation of a primarily agricultural economy to an industrial one. The peasant-instigated Revolution had ironically brought about processes of change that made rural life an anachronism, and millions relocated to metropolitan centers, particularly to that dystopian megalopolis of 20 million, Mexico City. Far from the heroic nationalist fantasy of charros and idyllic landscapes, the Mexico envisioned by the directors in this program is one of cinder-block constructions and industrial waste.

Sabado de mierda (Shitty Saturday)

Directed by Gregorio Rocha
Mexico 1985–87, 16mm, 25 min.


Un nahual veracru’

Directed by Miguel Calderón
Mexico 1994, Super-8 on video, 12 min.


Mi Cor-a-zón (My Heart)

Directed by Pola Weiss
Mexico 1986, video, 17 min.


El Vuelo (The Flight)

Directed by Silvia Gruner
Mexico 1989, video/Super-8 on video, 15 min.


Vincente Rojo

Directed by Juan José Gurrola
Mexico 1964, 16mm, 27 min.






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January 28 (Friday) 7 pm
February 1 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Program 4: Day Tripping

In the late 1960s, a new generation of radical filmmakers began to make provocative work that reflected the preoccupations of the counterculture. Artists like Chilean-born Alejandro Jodorowsky, his collaborator and cinematographer Rafael Corkidi, and painter/poet Gelsen Gas made films that fused the occult, the Panic movement (a theatrical phenomenon of Jodorowsky’s creation, chiefly inspired by Antonin Artaud), erotics, and a fascination with indigenous rituals. The highlight of this program,

Anti-Climax, is a feature-length experimental film comprised of a series of countercultural vignettes that examine the conflicting values of divergent generations and challenge societal attitudes towards sexuality and the Americanization of youth culture.

Roberto el arte (Steal Art)

Directed by Juan José Gurrola, Arnaldo Cohen, and Gelsen Gas
Mexico 1972, 16mm on video, b/w, 35 min.


Cine Insurgentes

Directed by Ed Jones
Mexico 1971, Super-8 on video, 3 min.



Directed by Gelsen Gas
Mexico 1969, 16mm, b/w, 80 min.


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January 29 (Saturday) 7 pm

Program 5: Mexicanidad: Part II

Nearly thirty years after making his surrealist La Formula Secreta, director Rubén Gámez returned to filmmaking with this impressionistic portrait of modern-day Mexico. Reminiscent in some ways of Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, Tequila appears to be a cinematic extension of Mexico’s muralist tradition, a contemporary equivalent of Diego Rivera or David Alfaro Siqueiros with vignettes, quick ideas, visual puns, cartoons, and political statements.


Directed by Rubén Gámez
Mexico 1991, 35mm, color, 85 min.






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January 30 (Sunday) 6 pm

Program 6: El Grito (The Cry)

Twentieth-century artistic movements are often directly linked to radical politics: early Soviet films, post-revolutionary Cuban cinema, the leftist critiques of the French cinéastes, and the Newsreel Collective in the United States in the 1960s. During the cultural and political upheavals of 1968, students from the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematograficos (CUEC) documented protests and confrontations not as journalists but as participants and in some cases as protagonists.

Communicados #1 (La agresión), #2 (La repuesta) and #4

Directed collectively by Comite de Huelga
Mexico 1968, 16mm, 20 min.


¿Ah, verdá?

Directed by Sergio García
Mexico 1973, Super-8 on video, 20 min.



Directed by Alfredo Gurrola
Mexico 1971, Super-8 on video, 17 min.


Segunda primera matriz (Second First Matrix)

Directed by Alfredo Gurrola
Mexico 1973, Super-8 on video, 13 min.


Border Swings (Vaivenes fronterizas)

Directed by Berta Jottar
Mexico 1993, video, 8 min.


Vìctimas del pecado neo-liberal (Victims of Neo-Liberal Sin)

Directed by Ximena Cuevas and Jesusa Rodríguez
Mexico 1995, video, 15 min.





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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700