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January 27 – January 28, 2017

Memory and Hope: The Paraguayan Cinema of Paz Encina

Landlocked and sparsely populated, Paraguay is a small country with a small national cinema. Hemmed in by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, the nation’s geographic isolation has been aggravated by almost two centuries of authoritarian rule, culminating in the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship that lasted from 1954 to 1989.

This isolation in time and space is the context out of which, and against which, filmmaker Paz Encina works. Encina (b. 1971) began her career as an editor for Paraguayan television and studying cinema in Cuba, Argentina and Paraguay. Her debut feature, Paraguayan Hammock (2006), a hypnotic tour de force of “slow cinema,” was the first Paraguayan film made in 35mm since the 1970s. Its international success similarly marked a historic moment for Paraguayan cinema.

Over the past few years, Encina has been working with the “Archives of Terror” left behind by the national police of the Stroessner regime. This research has culminated in Encina’s haunting second feature, Memory Exercises (2016), documenting the disappearance of a 1970s dissident and the subsequent effect on his children. The disjuncture between sound and image that characterized Paraguayan Hammock now informs juxtapositions of the mug shots of political prisoners with recordings of police interrogations. Taken together, Encina’s feature films describe a two-sided, Janus-faced consciousness that both remembers the horrors of the past but also looks forward with hope and just a bit of humor.

Paz Encina is the University of California Regents' Lecturer of 2017. Her visit is made possible with support from UC Berkeley's Regents' Lectureship Program, with thanks to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. – David Pendleton

Co-presented with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), Harvard. Special thanks: Kathy Geritz—Pacific Film Archive; Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Berkeley; Paola Ibarra—DRCLAS.

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

 

 


$12 Special Event Tickets
Paz Encina in Person

Friday January 27 at 7pm

Paraguayan Hammock
(Hamaca paraguaya)

Directed by Paz Encina. With Ramón del Río, Georgina Genes
Paraguay 2006, 35mm, color, 78 min. Guaraní with English subtitles

A slice of life from the autumn of 1935: an aging married couple hopes for rain while waiting for their soldier son to return home. The war is the Chaco War, a territorial dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay won by the latter country in what proved to be a Pyrrhic victory: historians now see the war as the start of a series of economic and political disruptions that culminated in the Stroessner dictatorship twenty years later. The film’s vision of a rural couple isolated in space and suspended in time becomes a potent metaphor for a landlocked and impoverished 20th century Paraguay. The twin senses of isolation and suspension are conveyed by the film’s use of long takes with a static camera and dislocating disconnections between image and soundtrack. But the film also reveals sly moments of humor and despairing hope that are positively Beckettian. Print courtesy Stadtkino Wien.

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Paz Encina in Person

Saturday January 28 at 7pm

Memory Exercises
(Ejercicios de memoria)

Directed by Paz Encina
Paraguay/Argentina 2016, DCP, color, 70 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Memory Exercises is a poetic mix of documentary and eulogy, commemorating the life and disappearance of Agustín Goiburú, one of the most radical and determined political opponents to the Stroessner regime. He disappeared in 1976 in the province of Entre Ríos, Argentina, where he was living in exile, near the Parana River that separates the two countries and plays a major role in Encina’s film. Shots that resemble still lives filmed in furnished but abandoned rooms combine with archival photos and recordings, so that the film acts as both a record of history and an intimate memoir of Goiburú’s family, using the memories of his children, refracted in turn through words and images of a still-younger generation. The juxtapositions of generations, of voices, and of facts and fictions conjure up indelible loss and implacable resistance combined with a sense of lives remembered and continuing. DCP courtesy MPM Films France.

Preceded by

Sorrows of the Struggle (Tristezas de la lucha)

Directed by Paz Encina
Paraguay 2016, digital video, color, 7 min. Spanish with English subtitles

This fictional short film contrasts the relative privilege of a young dissident under house arrest with the poverty of the soldier guarding him. Encina’s distinctive disjuncture of sound and image here draws evocatively on the white noise of radio interference and on the filmmaker’s research within Stroessner’s state police archives.

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