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May 6 – May 9

Where Are Their Stories? The Films of Nicolás Pereda

A rising star of contemporary Mexican cinema, Nicolás Pereda (b. 1982) is a central figure in a diverse group of Ibero-American directors whose innovative approaches to narrative filmmaking over the last ten years have together defined one of the most exciting trends in world cinema. Pereda’s films are resolutely Mexican in focus and almost exclusively deal with stories drawn directly from the everyday lives and worlds of their working-class characters. Yet the careful, often enigmatic minimalism embraced by Pereda’s films – equally through their fractured and elliptical narratives as their preference for extended sequence shots – is best understood in the context of similarly ambitious filmmaking practices explored by influential artists such as Portugal’s Pedro Costa and Argentina’s Lisandro Alonso. Indeed, like Costa’s pioneering trilogy of films set in Lisbon’s Fontainhas district and featuring a cast of non-professional actors drawn from its inhabitants, Pereda’s work intertwines elements of narrative and documentary cinema to radically confuse and reinvigorate the traditional categories of fiction and non-fiction. This aspect of Pereda’s cinema is perhaps best exemplified in his haunting short film Interview With the Earth, which subtly approaches the story of a young boy’s accidental death from a series of oblique angles, combining interviews with the boy’s friends, their almost ritualistic return to the mountain site of his fatal accident and the efforts of their mother to make amends for the tragedy. A melancholy meditation on death, ceremony and childhood imagination, Interview’s melding of abstract imagery with documentary-style interviews casts a mysterious spell upon the film, an uncertainty whether its story is “true” or a scripted creation.

In a similar manner as Lisandro Alonso, Pereda has refined a meticulously controlled aesthetic that lends his films an austere, enigmatic beauty and gives their stories a ritualistic quality and resonance. The stylistic restraint of Pereda’s films extends from his careful refusal of any elaborate or ostentatious cinematic effects to their stripped down, fable-like stories and the notably subdued performances of his actors. Refusing the long dominant narrative tradition of characters whose motivations are clearly explained through “back stories," Pereda’s films instead center around carefully modulated performances in which gestures and bodies “speak” more clearly than words. Restricting dialogue to an absolute minimum, Pereda’s films follow simple, almost stark, stories focused less upon actions than their effects and featuring recurrent characters played with laconic reserve by performers from Pereda’s stock company of regulars, most notably Teresa Sanchez and Gabino Rodríguez who appear as mother and son in three of the films. These three features - Together, Perpetuum Mobile and Summer of Goliath - are, in fact, subtly inter-nested to offer a shared portrait, cumulatively building in detail, of difficult lives in 21st century working class Mexico. Rejecting dialogue-driven drama, Pereda’s deeply nuanced films demand and reward a more patient and engaged mode of spectatorship attentive to the emotions and meaning contained with the smallest gestures of his actors, and floating between the elliptical stories that always seem to be fragments of a larger unfinished film.

Special thanks: Cristina Garza, Sandro Fiorin FiGa Films.


Special Event Tickets $12
Friday May 6 at 7pm

Interview with the Earth (Entrevista con la tierra)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda, Appearing in Person.
With Amalio Miranda, Nico Miranda, Eufracia Miranda
Mexico 2009, digital video, color 18 min. Spanish with English subtitles

One of Pereda’s finest accomplishments, Interview with the Earth is a mesmerizing study of grief that traces the echoes of a child’s accidental death across the lives of his friends and their families. Pereda’s fascinating short expands the ambiguity between fiction and non-fiction explored in his features, with its non-professional cast lending the film a deep authenticity and power which is paradoxically strengthened by the film’s open acknowledgements of its own deliberate artifice.

Together (Juntos)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda.
With Francisco Barreiro, Luisa Pardo, Gabino Rodríguez
Mexico/Canada 2009, digital video, color 73 min. Spanish with English subtitles

An intimate and off-beat portrait of a strained relationship, Juntos features Gabino Rodríguez as a young man in search of his lost dog and the cause of the widening rift with his moody girlfriend. Pereda makes humorous use of the cramped, dysfunctional apartment where most of the film takes place, staging dead-pan gags that recall the meditative comedy of Tsai-Ming Liang. Among Pereda’s most abstract and emotionally nuanced films, Together ends in a rhapsodic extended scene that pulls the film deep into a verdant wilderness and towards unknown mysteries.

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Special Event Tickets $12
Saturday May 7 at 7pm

Summer of Goliath (Verano de goliat)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda, Appearing in Person.
With Teresa Sanchez, Gabino Rodríguez, Juana Rodríguez
Mexico/Canada/Netherlands 2010, 35mm, color 76 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Gabino Rodríguez and Teresa Sanchez are teamed once again to portray another fascinating variation of the mother-son dynamic explored across Pereda’s feature films – this time as a soldier with violent urges and a woman gripped by fear that her husband’s unexplained absence is permanent. Counterbalancing the film’s quiet, and at times unsettling, study of violence, masculinity and family, is the sundrenched beauty and expressive landscapes surrounding its small town rural setting. Dramatically expanding the uncertainty between documentary and fiction explored so powerfully in Interview, Pereda interjects Summer of Goliath’s gripping story with extended and revealing interviews – offering alternate perspectives on the film’s characters.

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Sunday May 8 at 7pm

Where Are Their Stories?
(¿Dónde están sus historias?)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda, Appearing in Person.
With Gabino Rodríguez, Juana Rodríguez, Teresa Sanchez
Mexico/Canada 2007, 35mm, color 73 min. Spanish with English subtitles.

Pereda’s debut feature showcases his carefully restrained narrative and visual style with its meticulously understated story of a young man trying to prevent his uncles from selling his elderly grandmother’s farm. With Pereda’s regular actors Teresa Sanchez and Gabino Rodríguez making their first appearance in the mother and son roles they have played in four films to date, Where Are Their Stories? also introduces the theme of family which unites the films, here by revealing subtle, ironic parallels between the boy’s rural home and the relatively luxurious Mexico City home where his mother works as a live-in maid.

All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence
(Todo en fin, el silencio lo ocupaba)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda, Appearing in Person.
With Jesusa Rodríguez
Mexico/Canada 2010, digital video, b/w 62 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Pereda’s background in video installation is clearly revealed in this, his most formally radical work – a meticulously staged reading of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz´s classic poem, Primer sueño, with celebrated Mexican actress and director, Jesusa Rodríguez portraying the legendary writer reciting her spellbinding poetry in various strikingly theatrical poses. Shot in high contrast black and white during the filming of an educational television program about Sor Juana, All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence reinvents the original film from the margins. Devoting equal time to the production of the film itself as the poetry, All Things… transforms the struggle of Pereda and his crew to find the ideal shadow and camera angle into abstract and mesmerizing drama.

 

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Monday May 9 at 7pm

Perpetuum Mobile

Direced by Nicolás Pereda. With Gabino Rodríguez, Teresa Sanchez, Francisco Barreiro
Mexico/Canada 2010, 35mm, color 86 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Gabino Rodríguez returns as an itinerant mover, working from the streets of Mexico City with his partner and living with his beleaguered mother, played once again by Teresa Sanchez. A heightened tension within the home – by the absent older brother and unmentioned father. Pereda’s most tightly structured and intricately plotted feature, Perpetuum Mobile fully punctures the drifting rhythm of Rodriguez’s casual pursuit of a career with the series of intense and almost satirically telenovela-esque domestic vignettes encountered by the movers.

All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence
(Todo en fin, el silencio lo ocupaba)

Direced by Nicolás Pereda. With Jesusa Rodríguez
Mexico/Canada 2010, digital video, b/w 62 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Pereda’s background in video installation is clearly revealed in this, his most formally radical work – a meticulously staged reading of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz´s classic poem, Primer sueño, with celebrated Mexican actress and director, Jesusa Rodríguez portraying the legendary writer reciting her spellbinding poetry in various strikingly theatrical poses. Shot in high contrast black and white during the filming of an educational television program about Sor Juana, All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence reinvents the original film from the margins. Devoting equal time to the production of the film itself as the poetry, All Things… transforms the struggle of Pereda and his crew to find the ideal shadow and camera angle into abstract and mesmerizing drama.

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