Toward a Fourth Cinema
Towards a Fourth Cinema:
|EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA WORKSHOP|
|Monday March 29th||Edvard Munch|
|1971 at||Gallery. Paseo|
|19:30||de la Reforma 189-a|
The Third Anniversary of the Edvard Munch Gallery was celebrated. That same day the EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA WORKSHOP was presented, made up as a result of the First National Independent Cinema Competition a year ago.
In this competition cinematographer Sergio García won a prize with his film El fin, and later formed this Workshop. The Experimental Cinema Workshop is made up of sixteen people: Sergio García, Ricardo and Felipe Tirado, Guadalupe Meza, Elena Zetina, Sergio Arroyave, Hugo García, Arturo Espinoza, Jesús Salazar, José Torruella, Javier Espinoza, Gustavo Valladares, Gilberto Verduzco, Eduardo Martínez, Jorge Frankemberger and Roberto Martínez. The actress Nadia Milton is also part of the Workshop.
At present the group is shooting a film and has three more underway.
Sergio García said: "Our aim is to make a cinema with no prconceptions nor pressures, a free cinema. Not only have we thought of experimental cinema, but also of making films for children. We have three exhibition projects: 8mm cine-club theaters, tents and outdoor mobile screenings throughout the country."
The Workshop has already produced Las calles negras [Black Streets], and Todos los caminos van a Anexas [All Roads Lead to Anexas], Reencuentro [Re-encounter] and Sinopsis [Synopsis] are being made.
Sergio García went on to say: "The first competition opened up a path to create another type of cinema. Perhaps it's like a time bomb. It's as if a rage were let loose little by little, consciously and responsibly." [End Page 113] [Begin Page 115]
El fin was shown as well as a documentary, and models and photos were exhibited. Ricardo and Felipe Tirado spoke more extensively about the Workshop and a discussion and assessment of cinema in general took place.
In this way the anniversary of this cultural institution was celebrated, attended by 225 artists.
(Excélsior, El Universal, La Prensa and Novedades, April 3, 1971.)
Alfredo Gurrola, David Celestinos, Roberto D'Luna, Jesús González Dávila and Carlos Belaunzarán later joined the Workshop.
By the month of May, Procinemex called us and offered all kinds of help and unconditional support. We were asked for an activity plan, which we shortly handed in, requesting a mobile unit, equipment and material as well as a small theater to set up a cine-club.
We were told they would study the possibilities and then we read in the press:
"PROCINEMEX WILL SUPPORT 8MM EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA WORKSHOP"
"RODOLFO ECHEVERRIA ORDERS SUPPORT FOR EXPERIMENTAL WORKSHOP"
Official support... ...and a total blow...
We realized, though a bit too late, that we had put our foot in it; at this time some members left the Workshop and several friends stopped talking to us. ("So you're independent filmmakers, eh!?")
However, I believe we made good friends with people in the industry regardless of any official relationship. [End Page 115] [Begin Page 117]
Round about the same days of May we met Manuel Michel and Colombia Moya, who showed great interest in our Movement. They had a corporation where they offered classes in dancing, acting and I don't know how many other things. When talking about our main need (a theater), we reached the happy agreement to adapt the premises, rent one hundred chairs, make a screen, lend our projectors, make some season-tickets, and begin a weekly cine-club ("On Friday at 20:00 hours such-and-such a film will be shown and so-and-so will talk about... ")
8MM CINEMA PROMOTED IN SOCIETIES AND COMPETITIONS. IT IS A MAGNIFICENT FIELD FOR EXPERIMENTATION AND HAS WIDESPREAD FUTURE IN THE INDUSTRY AND TV
By Rubén Torres
A group of filmmakers from outside the industry, who for some time have been making feature-length films in eight millimeter, have gathered under the auspices of the Corporación Artística, which is directed by Manuel Michel and Colombia Moya.
It is very probable that with this merger we will soon see the fruit of their work, which currently consists of a dozen films. Moreover, there are very important plans which might well produce, in the long run, new cinema-tographers, whom we have long been expecting to revive the industry.
Each film lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. Seven directors have joined this Experimental Cinema Workshop: Sergio García, Alfredo Gurrola, Jesús González Dávila, Ricardo and Felipe Tirado, David Celestinos and José Torruella.
Furthermore, they will soon have a small theater in which to show their pro-ductions. This theater will be supported by the forming of a partnership, with which the filmmakers will recover in part the investments they have made.
Some of their titles include: Las calles negras [The Black Streets] by Felipe and Ricardo Tirado; Las hermanas[The Sisters] by David Celestinos; Todos los caminos van a anexas [All Routes Lead to the Attached] by Sergio García and Las águilas no cazan moscas [Eagles Don't Hunt Flies] by Alfredo Gurrola. [End Page 117] [Begin Page 119]
Some professional actors hate collaborating with the young directors for free, and among them are: Diana Mariscal, José Alonso, José Roberto Hill and Margarita Bauche.
Not only as experimentation but also as industry-the imminent boom of the cassette-the future of cinema in 8 and super-8 is incalculable.
(El Heraldo de México, May 15, 1971.)
Corporación Artística A.C.
EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA WORKSHOP
Invite you to the Inauguration
of its joint activities
which will take place on
June the 11th, 1971 at 19:30 hours
at Río Elba 22-2.
Last Friday saw the inauguration of the cine-club of the Experimental Cinema Workshop and Corporación Artística, the aim of which is to strengthen the artistic movement and new talents interested in the seventh art.
Its board of directors, chaired by Colombia Moya, and made up of Manuel Michel, Sergio García, David Celestinos and Alfredo Gurrola, among others, this evening gave a cocktail reception to celebrate the presentation of two new films.
Ofelia Medina, Diana Mariscal, Pilar Pellicer, Pily Bayona and Verónica Castro were the godmothers of this cine-club.
(El Heraldo de México, June 27, 1971.)
NEW CINE-CLUB WILL SHOW "AMATEUR" FILMS IN EIGHT MILLIMETERS.
(Esto, June 27, 1971.) [End Page 119] [Begin Page 121]
"WE WANT TO CREATE A THIRD WORLD CULTURE"
"Our background is quite shady: most of the people of the group were very active in the 1968 Movement... At present, we want to continue being students, not just young people... from our frustration was born the idea of channeling our concerns through an ambitious cultural and artistic project which we began by ourselves: the Second National Independent Cinema Competition, 'Luis Buñuel Award,' the subject of which was THE MAIN PROBLEM, which would be made in 8 and super 8mm, as we wanted to make formal cinema."
The Group of Cultural Agitation of the Faculty of Economics belonging to the UNAM prepared:
THE SECOND NATIONAL INDEPENDENT CINEMA COMPETITION IN 8mm, ORGANIZED BY STUDENTS OF ECONOMICS
A group of students from the School of Economics have formed their own committee for cultural dissemination, the first step of which is the organization of the Second National Independent Cinema Competition in 8mm. Registrations will open as of now and will close on June 30. The Address is P.O. Box 20591 in Mexico City.
On launching this invitation they said:
"We believe the importance of cinema in current society is definitive, as it is a means of communication and expression of culture.
"Cinema must be demystified, as it is not the exclusive patrimony of our small intellectual elite, nor does the making of important films require all the great industrial setup.
"Therefore, we have chosen the eight and super eight millimeter formats, because both the material and equipment are accessible to all due to their low cost and easy handling.
"WE WANT TO FOCUS ON REALITY AND QUESTION IT THROUGH A LANGUAGE AS CONCRETE AS CINEMA."
(El Heraldo de México, May 1971.)
And so, on Wednesday August 11, 1971 began the II National Independent Cinema Competition, "Luis Buñuel Award." [End Page 121] [Begin Page 123]
Thirty-three films were entered and the screenings took place in the Instituto Francés de América Latina (at 19:00 hours) and in the Club de Periodistas (at 21:00 hours), the latter being where the public (mostly youth) focused its interest more because at the end of the show there was a debate with the filmmakers who had presented their work that evening.
These debates were true "Public Trials," conducted with the same strategy as a student meeting, that is, several organizers were posted in strategic places, mingling with the audience, passing as plain spectators. The "debate" was conducted by three or four members (acting as if they were prosecutors and judges) who bombarded the filmmaker in question with the most tendentious questions possible. No one or almost no one managed to leave the confrontation unscathed: the great majority was accused of being "reactionary, individualistic, and petit bourgeois" and other such terms used by the typical "cafe" leftists. This, in addition to the lack of respect on the part of the organizers, not only toward the jury (whom they themselves had appointed) but also toward the participating filmmakers and general public, threatened to massacre, at its very birth, this cinematographic competition. And I say "cinematographic," though in that competition the organizers lacked the most elementary sense of cinema; a criteria which they tried to impose on the jury, even when the latter had already given its verdict. And all of this, amidst a great deal of bickering.
(This gave rise to the second organized group of 8mm cinema: the "Cooperativa de Cine Marginal," which we will discuss later.)
In this regard, the critic Arturo Garmendia, from the Esto newspaper commented the following:
THE FUTURE OF INDEPENDENT CINEMA AT STAKE
A rapid poll among seven young filmmakers who took part in the II National Independent Cinema Competition, although it is not definitive, revealed that the demand of two of the makers, Paco Ignacio Taibo (Jr.) and Gabriel Retes, [End Page 123] [Begin Page 125] for the dissolution of the competition as such, to give rise to an autonomous movement, has not pierced as deeply as was thought at the beginning.
Gabriel Retes reiterated the considerations and proposals made known through a bulletin last Monday night, according to which accepting any jury and not an open confrontation with the public represents a reactionary structure, as it encourages the "struggle for the booty" (in this case a diploma of a certain cultural value) and not a critical development of the filmmakers, in a climate of joint work and ideological confrontation, which is what true independent cinema should involve. In the competition Retes presented El paletero[The Popsicle Man].
While David Celestinos thinks the competition was launched with certain bases and that it must be continued according to these, otherwise he accepts the proposal for a new confrontation. He states he agrees with the general lines of Taibo's and Retes' claim, though he also believes that a climate of collaboration and confrontation has already been achieved thanks to the first competition: when a year had elapsed, a group of participants joined together to form the Experimental Cinema Workshop, which operates in premises on Río Elba street, where lessons of cinematography are offered, exhibitions of 8 and super-8 are made and where they work on films in common agreement.
Carrasco Zanini, who belongs to the Experimental Workshop, likewise said that postponing the competition when it was halfway through was inopportune as it implied disregarding the work of the jury and organizers, who deserved respect.
Jesús Dávila, who took part in the competition with the short Los estabilizados [The Stabilized], did not agree with Zanini. Although, on the one hand, he accepts the interest of the bulletin, he believes it is too late to carry it out. However, he hopes that at the next opportunity the proposal will be fulfilled, because the need for contact with the public is urgent. A member at the beginning of the Experimental Cinema Workshop, he speaks of his withdrawal from this group as a result of the lack of preparation and organization, and doubts that it responds to the concept of independence established in the invitation, citing the case of Sergio García, the director, who is now assistant director to filmmaker Manuel Michel (one of the promoters of the Workshop) and is now filming a commissioned documentary for the Estudios Churubusco. He thinks the Workshop and the Competition, as it is being held now, are only stepping stones to the industry.
There were two counter-proposals under consideration: that of Dionisio García, who presented a documentary on herb medicine called Los viejos remedios [Old Remedies], who says he will stick to the guidelines of the competition and believes that, in the end, a symbolic prize given by a renowned jury is more important than the easily manipulated decision of the public; [End Page 125] [Begin Page 127] and that of Pablo Espinoza, who participated with the short A juicio [Trial] and who, in addition to disagreeing with the motion, feels defrauded by the competition. He speaks of the disorganization, comments on the bad screening conditions and even insinuates the organizers' mercenary intentions. As a solution he put forward that for the following year he himself would make a competition for experimental cinema in 8 and 16mm with the help of the Comité Nacional de la Juventud of the CNOP.
The only firm support to Retes' and Taibo's idea came from Enrique Escalona, who sympathizes with their proposals. The public's and jury's opinions will be made known in debates which began yesterday and which we will collect in a future poll.
In the last exhibition, the members of the jury (a jury which grew and shrunk all the time), made known the names of the winning films, as well as the special prizes and mentions.
Taibo, Retes and company were still insisting on their demagoguery, with the support of the organizers, who had neither the certificates nor, probably, Luis Buñuel's consent.
The members of the Experimental Cinema Workshop, as well as other contestants, demanded the prizes be given. In view of such pressure, the organizers promised that the corresponding certificates would be delivered at a later date.
It is now two months since the competition. And the press says:
CORPORACIÓN ARTÍSTICA PRIZES:
Just when the divisions that surged in the heart of last II Independent Cinema Competition in 8mm seemed to have been left behind, here is a new event which shows that the schism is definite. Corporación Artística A.C., (where one of the groups in conflict, the "Experimental Cinema Workshop," works) in collaboration with the Instituto de Cultura Superior A.C. awarded prizes, on its own account, to the participants of the above-mentioned competition. [End Page 127] [Begin Page 129]
- The new list of prizes is as follows:
- Best Film: A partir de cero [From Scratch] by CarlosBelaunzarán.
Photography: Roberto D'Luna for A partir de cero.
Music: Carlos Belaunzarán for A partir de cero.
Best Actor: Ignacio Villarías in A partir de cero.
Best Actress: Diana Mariscal in Todos los caminos van a Anexas.
Best Character Actor: Juan José Gurrola in Las águilasno cazan moscas [Eagles Don't Hunt Flies].
Best Staging: David Celestinos for Las hermanas [TheSisters].
Special Acting: July Furlong in El paletero [The PopsicleMan].
Best New Actor: Octavio Tirado in Todos los caminos van a Anexas.
Best New Actress: Patricia and Araceli Tamayo in Las hermanas.
Best Script and Plot: Sergio García for Todos los caminos vana Anexas.
Best Montage: Alfredo Gurrola for Las águilas no cazanmoscas.
Best New Director: Carrasco Zanini for Víctor Ibarra Cruz.
(Esto, October 8, 1971.)
The first distribution of prizes was the reason why the organizers of the II Competition rushed the "Luis Buñuel" awards, declaring to the press that the previous awards had been a farce, which the Corporación Artística and the Instituto de Cultura Superior denied, pointing out that they had granted the prizes in their own name and never in that of Luis Buñuel.
LUIS BUÑUEL CERTIFICATES. SEVEN FILMS WON PRIZES IN THE II INDEPENDENT CINEMA COMPETITION.
Seven films were awarded prizes in the Second Independent Cinema Competition.A partir de cero by Carlos Belaunzarán was awarded the prize of Best Film, Music, Best Actor and Photography.
Las águilas no cazan moscas by Alfredo Gurrola won the prize for Best Film and Best Editing.
Los estabilizados by Jesús Dávila won for Best Film.
Víctor Ibarra Cruz by Carrasco Zanini won for Best Film and Direction.
Jueves de Corpus [Corpus Christi] by "El Grupo" won for Best Film. Decadencia [Decadence] by the "Brigada Venceremos" won for Best Film.
Todos los caminos van a Anexas by Sergio García won for Best Actress.
All the films which won prizes, as well as the categories of Acting, Photography, Plot, Direction, Edition and Music, were given a "Luis Buñuel" certificate. The organizers of the Second Independent Cinema Competition stated that the holding of the event will bring positive results, as the young talents who took part in it will act as the seedbed for the rebirth of Mexican cinema, as there are new talents in direction, acting, photography, scripts, etc.
(Excélsior, November, 1971.) [End Page 129] [Begin Page 131]
JORGE AYALA BLANCO COMMENTS ON THE AWARD-WINNING FILMS:
Three contestants awarded prizes in the last competition filmed poor works with some good ideas. Todos los caminos van a Anexas by Sergio García makes a flat description of the plain life of a typist, who lives in solitude wrapping herself in ten towels, and juxtaposes her with the pursuits of an improbable guerrilla clad in olive green; everything is monotonous and mechanical, except for the metaphysical impact of the end: the guerrilla fighter shoots from the screen and the typist, Diana Mariscal, falls down dead in a cinema seat.
Las hermanas by David Celestinos, is one of the best filmed in the competition, but his cocktail of fraternal lesbianism, child traumatology, Peralvillo (cheap) psychoanalysis, morgue make-up, an irresistible male torso and visual references to a Secret Ceremony, save nothing but the atmosphere of erotic obsession from ridicule: the maker of Mi casa de altos techos is the only participant who is not afraid of sex.
The disqualified film, due to scruples, Sabrás de mí [You'll Hear about Me] by Enrique Escalona was not worthy of such a fuss. The virtues of the montage of El padre O'Why are substituted, after some excellent shots of the railroad yards, by the badly recorded interviews Escalona makes among the lumpen railroad men. A superficial, irritating and wretched-style imitation of the worst sensationalist scenes of Q.R.R. through which we find out that the ignorant sub-proletariat smokes pot and is inarticulate. Denunciation becomes complacency in this disintegration.
Here we reach the winners. Two of them, signed with a collective pseudonym, review and interpret the killings of June 10. Neither of them fulfills its objective. Decadencia by the "Brigada Venceremos" does not get beyond the level of desperate rebuff and insult: the president with little hawk wings and then a cut to Hitler, too frequently reproduced stills and shots of corpses; bravery is reduced to a mere iconic similarity and the easy sensitivity of the viewer's indignation; everything is pre-analytical, but it benefits from its laconic force.
Un Jueves de Corpus by "El Grupo," is a total flop; the camera is affected with persecution mania even before the confrontation with the granaderos [riot police] and their protéges; a useless documentary which captured nothing and limited itself to panning over a few posters, running unfortunately and badly filming the UNAM the following day in the rain; the soundtrack coarsely squanders testimonies in a childishly impressive language and the moving images seem bent on making Sánchez Vargas seem right: except for the stills of a hundred newspapers the halcones [right-wing paramilitants]do not exist. [End Page 131] [Begin Page 133]
Los estabilizados by Jesús González Dávila must be driven by very transcendental codes and ideas (the dissolution of the couple, a seducer in a Volkswagen who represents the system, the acquiescence of married couples who have posters with blondes showing their stockings). The fact is that the winks of the story act in emptiness and no sequence could explain anything to us, until the lack of cohesion and structure led us to the murder of the seducer by the couple under a little bridge and then everything became clear: stable lovers must murder in order to have access to obviousness.
Aquilae non capit muscas by Alfredo Gurrola is a short satirical fantasy in which we see a demobilized soldier from the Vietnam War (Jaime Toledo) traveling in a cab where a boy is pulling his long hair, and then the ex-soldier tries to adapt to sedentary life, fall in love and work in an office, without success. Everything forces him to escape, through imagination, to feudal tournaments in a car, romances in a cemetery, Napoleonic battles in La Marquesa, until he ends up piercing his medieval helmet and taking the first plane leaving the airport. The game is amusing and at times there are breaths of self-ironic lyricism.
Víctor Ibarra Cruz by E. Carrasco Zanini is the unexpected, wondrous and unrepeatable case of a perfect short. A homeless man and his dog wander down avenues, outskirts, supermarkets and get drunk in shacks. Nothing more, but the film is run through with ingenuousness and sensitivity. The internal document touches the universal fibers of the human condition. The spontaneity of the best folklore and working-class slang highlight the deep dimension of this lumpen ex-con who sings his wise wisdom and, after talking with his dog, asserts once and for all, his identity: Víctor Ibarra Cruz, a wretched and fresh poem about a man enlightened by his internal light which no Mexican picaresque film had ever reached.
A partir de cero by Carlos Belaunzarán, a professor of philosophy and avant-garde painter. The film has a conceptual density and security in its tempo and narration which the remaining "ideological" films in the competition do not even conceive. Here we are faced with the search for social conditions of a Mexican, from his human and biological abstraction to his total nakedness in a thinking room to try to reconstruct himself from scratch. The city is full of ignominious traces; propaganda debases the most noble ideas; contradictions are lost in aberration. The hired assassins of Telesystems assault and gag the intelligent chess-players as in a "Santo" movie. The man joins a woman who in the bucolic courtship dance already shows traces of future tedium, screams in the Zócalo, goes from exploited to exploiter (from worker to bureaucrat) as the race horse following the same unreachable goal, his religiousness does not recognize Jesus Christ when he asks him for a cigarette in the park and commits suicide when he can no longer stand the sluggish weight of social success and domestic peace. Everything must be thought over, but in essence, thought over from scratch. Belaunzarán's existential reflection raises the film to a philosophical dimension. What is emphatic about the concept is channeled softly into the extreme severity of the images.
(Excélsior, Diorama.) [End Page 133] [Begin Page 135]
FOR TINA AND ALFREDO GURROLA
This group, as has been mentioned before, was born from the II Independent Cinema Contest. Self designated as an "activist group," the Cooperativa has been developing a militant and political cinema. The way in which this group has worked is the following: until recently it was sponsored by the STERM (for which it made the Comunicados series); it tours universities, trade unions, and ejidos where at the end of the show it organizes debates and talks to make known and find out the social problems we are suffering from.
Unfortunately, its type of film lacks the proper cinematographic language, almost making its proposed objectives impossible, because it has not managed to attract the true grass roots of the country.
Its cinema is propagandistic and demagogic and lacks the necessary and proper subtlety for these cases. Its sphere of action is the already politicized groups, turning into a give-and-take of ideas and concepts, a tendency deeply-rooted in the Latin-American left.
If, in addition to this, we add the lack of unity which has prevailed due to the diversity of criterion, we will grasp the lamentable waste of ideas and materials, which is typical, as we said before, of Latin-American leftists who, it would seem, play the game of the power oligarchies.
In its ranks, the Cooperativa de Cine Marginal has (or had) brilliant filmmakers, such as: Gabriel Retes, Enrique Escalona, Carrasco Zanini, as well as Ramón Villar and Paco Ignacio Taibo Jr., among others. [End Page 135] [Begin Page 137]
At the end of 1971 this group emerged, sponsored by Casa del Lago, a dependent of the Departamento de Difusión Cultural of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Since its foundation, the workshop has been directed by Alfonso Tirado, and from it have come valuable filmmakers such as: Rocío Barrios, Miguel Huerta, Leopoldo Hernández, Juan Nuñez, Héctor Abadié and Fritz Galván, among others.
Without a defined tendency, the Casa del Lago Workshop devotes most of its time to the study of cinematographic technique, while supporting constant practice.
Although it is the one of its kind, we regret the scant activity of its 8mm cine-club and, when it has operated, the little interest of its organizers to create an audience (so necessary) for our type of cinema; because, due to its location, Casa del Lago is a very important focal point for popular culture. [End Page 137] [Begin Page 139]
EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA WORKSHOP
First of its type, the Experimental Cinema Workshop has seen an endless line of notable filmmakers go by. Names? Here they go:
Alfredo Gurrola (two Luis Buñuel awards);
David Celestinos (one Luis Buñuel award);
Carlos Belaunzarán (one Luis Buñuel award);
Carrasco Zanini and Jesús González Dávila (one Luis Buñuel award each), though they deserted later;
And I (who also have a Luis Buñuel award). (Sorry for naming myself but what if they forget!)
Going on to something else (after this presumptuousness), I shall say the Workshop joined Corporación Artística (as I had already mentioned) for a time. During this period there was a weekly cine-club (for almost a year) and courses on 8 and super-8mm cinema were given; there were conferences and seminars, as well as the unavoidable problems between directors.
At present, the Experimental Cinema Workshop is working on the making of a cinema which functions somewhere between informative, didactic and political conscience-raising for students, workers and peasants. Its achievements will be seen with time. At present, we already have a mobile unit, as well as equipment to film, edit, record and project.
This Workshop was created when the Club Procinemex and Instituto Nacional de la Juventud Mexicana (INJM) disappeared. These workshops were eliminated due to lack of interest and support from their respective sponsors and, in the case of the INJM, due to creative limitations imposed on political subjects.
Tired of so many promises, the young filmmakers decided to work on their own, setting up a kiosk on Sullivan street. [End Page 139] [Begin Page 141]
Since the end of 1972, this group gets together every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Sometimes they invite filmmakers, actors and film technicians, so they can transmit their knowledge. Other times they exchange impressions and help each other make films. They have organized collections in the public and with this have begun to buy their own equipment.
The Taller Popular de Cine Experimental is perhaps "despite, or maybe due to its limitations," one of the most solid promises of the 8mm Movement. Among its most distinguishes makers are: Israel E. Mandujano, María de los Ángeles Rangel and Jorge Sequeiros, of whom we will be hearing more shortly.
At the beginning of 1973, the INJM formed a new cinema workshop, directed this time by an ex-student of the former workshop, Luis Alberto Trejo, a young man with magnificent aptitudes and spectacular dedication.
It is believed-and not without reason-that the government is trying to control the 8mm Cinema Movement. But bureaucracy in power is so apathetic that it does not even know what is going on around it... which is not without danger, because when these bureaucrats fear something, they attack without checking...
As for official control, García Borja's declarations are alarming in the sense that the Cinematographic Bank, through the Centro de Cortometraje of the Estudios Churubusco will finance experimental cinema in 8 and 16mm. We hope few will succumb, bewitched by the mermaids' song. [End Page 141] [Begin Page 143]
* * *
After nearly all the National Exhibitions of 8mm Cinema, groups and workshops were created in the cities visited. Hence, we have the Cinema Workshop of the University of Zacatecas, the CAI group in Guadalajara, and the Workshop-which already existed-of the Juárez University in Durango.
In these workshops there were really outstanding members such as: Juan Antonio de la Riva, Alejandro González Cortázar, Francisco Urzúa, J. Luis Pérez, Eduardo Román, Raúl López M., the "good" Edgard and Alberto Tejada, among many others who have made films such as Charros, charros, Agonía en tres tiempos [Agony in Three Tempos], Rostros [Faces], etc.
Moreover, there are other groups in the cities of Puebla, Tepic, Veracruz, Monterrey and Chihuahua.
Most of these workshops emerged between the middle of 1972 and the beginning of 1973.
Headed by Jesús González Dávila, this group carries out tenacious work in favor of 8mm cinema. At present it has a weekly cine-club (the only one that survives), where on the basis of screenings and talks they seek to maintain and create an audience interested in, supportive of, and which strengthens the 8mm Movement. It should be mentioned that Jesús is one of the most valuable elements this type of cinema has, because apart from his quality as a filmmaker, there is his devotion and constancy in the still new 8mm cinema.
The Cooperativa Video Cine 8 seeks to bring together, in an association, each and every group and workshop. And I say "seeks" because it has not yet quite managed its objective. In it there are members of the Experimental Cinema [End Page 143] [Begin Page 145] Workshop, the Casa del Lago, Ocho Realizadores, Taller Popular de Cine Experimental and even the INJM Workshop.
Due to the apathy of some, as well as the difficulty to reach an agreement among so many criterion, the Cooperativa is momentarily (I hope) stagnant.
Among its achievements are having served as coordination center to carry out the five National Exhibitions of 8mm Cinema.
Alfredo Zamarripa, one of its most enthusiastic members, and to whom we owe all the organizational attributes, is the Secretary General. Another outstanding member is Luis Gutiérez y Prieto, of whom we will say more later on.
Be that as it may, the Cooperativa Video Cine 8 (as Miguel Hernández said): "still has some life in it."
And, as far as I know, there are no more groups or workshops.
I am sure that, after the III Independent Cinema Contest "Luis Buñuel Award," we shall meet others and more will be formed.
Nonetheless, what is most important is not that there be dozens of groups, but that there be awareness and tenacity, which makes this Movement grow and reach heights, which even now would be hard to foresee, given what this type of cinema can achieve.
And if anyone doubts this, speak now... or forever hold your peace... [End Page 145] [Begin Page 147]
* * *
In Mexico, before 1970, there were already groups of amateur filmmakers whose hobby was filming 8mm films in their free time, as well as some isolated attempts which were a bit more transcendental, as most of these amateurs (non-filmmakers) were making trivialities.
(God!, according to what I have just said, in Mexico there are no filmmakers: only "professional amateurs." And regarding professional amateur filmmakers: Do you think that if Emiliano Zapata had had a wife like Patricia Azpíllaga, he would have been what he was?)
A cinema faithful to historical facts!! Because "a cinema that lies is a cinema that makes people stupid," as someone once said. [End Page 147] [Begin Page 149]
FOR CECILIA PEZET AND NADIA MILTON
From March 18 to 23, 1972, the 1st National Exhibition of 8mm Cinema was held the in the auditorium of the Centro Internacional de la Amistad.
The success of this Exhibition was extraordinary. Day after day the auditorium was filled with a public avid for new cinema.
At the end of each show there were debates and several young people from Guadalajara gathered to form a workshop under the auspices of this Center.
Among the participating films were:
A partir de cero [From Scratch]
Eran tres[There Were Three]
Las águilas no cazan moscas[Eagles Don't Catch Flies]
Yo deseo, tú deseas [I Want, You Want]
Todos los caminos van a Anexas [All Roads Lead to Anexas]
Las hermanas [The Sisters]
El tercer suspiro [The Third Sigh]
Las calles negras [Black Streets]
El fin [The End]
and several more. [End Page 149] [Begin Page 151]
Among the people who attended were: Carlos Belaunzarán, Alfredo Gurrola, Tina French, Colombia and Alejandro Moya, Bosco Arroche, Cecilia Pezet, Diana Mariscal, Leticia Robles, Luis Alberto Trejo and Pilar Pellicer.
Roberto Almanza, the director of the Departamento de Coordinación Cultural of the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, invited and held the 2nd Exhibition.
This Exhibition was coordinated by Alfredo Zamarripa, and was held from April 20 to 23, 1972, in the university boardroom.
It was a big success; all in all 27 films were shown (more or less the same ones as in Guadalajara), and among the attendants were: Juan Núñez, Miguel Huerta, Leopoldo Hernández, Cecilia Pezet, Tina French, Alfredo Gurrola, Antonio Domínguez, Sofía Lago, Nino Gasteasoro, as well as members of the Cinema Workshop of the Juárez University of Durango.
This Exhibition led to the creation of the Cinema Workshop of the University of Zacatecas, and the idea of making the III Independent Cinema Contest "Luis Buñuel Award" in Zacatecas was conceived.
The III National Exhibition was supposed to be held in Tepic, from May 17 to 20, 1972. And I say "supposed" because everything was there except an Exhibition.
On the day of the inauguration, the Teatro del Seguro Social was closed and there was no one to open it. At last, on the second day, there were screenings, for a mere twenty or thirty spectators. On the fourth day the sound equipment was taken away. And during the remaining days the organizers of the event (the Masonic Lodge of the State of Nayarit, and the Tepic Colegio de Abogados) disappeared, leaving us in the hotel with all the expenses and no return tickets. [End Page 151] [Begin Page 153]
In these conditions we decided to stay, confidently hoping that the main organizer would appear; however, we did not expect the hotel manager's resolution: either we paid what was owed or there would be no more service.
Therefore, we resorted to the media since Rubén Torres from El Heraldo de México, Elvia Rodríguez from the Diario de la Tarde and Luis Gutiérrez y Prieto from Cablevisión were with us; they published things like this:
"IN NAYARIT ONLY HALF THE GUESTS OF THE NATIONAL CINEMA EXHIBITION IN EIGHT MILLIMETER WERE FED."
"ORGANIZATION BY VERY DISORGANIZED COMRADES."
"THE 8MM FILMMAKERS ARE STILL STUCK IN NAYARIT. NOW THEY ARE EATING BUT NOT COMING BACK, AMONG THEM THE CHIEF OF PRODUCTION OF CABLEVISIÓN LUIS GUTIÉRREZ Y PRIETO."
"8MM FILMMAKERS LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY."
These, naturally, were the headlines. But the last straw was a comment in the program "24 horas" by Jacobo Zabludovsky who, at Luis Gutiérrez' phone request, explained what was happening and made a petition to the State Government to solve the situation. No sooner said than done, the 4th power (TV) worked its wonders: the following day, at the Governor of Nayarit's instructions, our expenses were paid and we were given our plane tickets.
Among those of us in Tepic were Marcela López Rey, and all the others mentioned in the other Exhibitions (well, almost all).
Invited by the Casa de la Cultura, the Exhibition was carried out from June 2 to 5. It was a great success; the audience, marvelous (the most politicized up to now). The films, the same. What changed was the number of guests, because for economic reasons (or because of what happened in Tepic) only Alfredo Gurrola, Luis Alberto Trejo, Alfredo Zamarripa, Leopoldo Hernández and I attended. [End Page 153] [Begin Page 155]
V. MEXICO CITY
In the Museo de la Ciudad de México, and before another spectacular full house, the 5th Exhibition was held in July that same year. The same films, the same filmmakers, etc. And I won't give any more information, because this already looks like the news on the society pages...
Apart from the "Luis Buñuel Award," there are two other annual competitions: the Contest of the ANDA (in July), of which there has only been one, which was, incidentally, quite bad; and the Concurso de Cine Experimental de la Juventud (in November), organized by the INJM of which there have been two, the first in Hermosillo, State of Sonora and the second in Tepic, State of Nayarit.
These two competitions have prizes in cash; neither of them has managed to attract films of quality as have been seen in the "Luis Buñuel Award".
The winners of these contests have been:
INJM I COMPETITION
INJM II COMPETITION
8MM CINEMA COMPETITION OF THE UNIVERSITY LASALLE (1972)
A curious and interesting contest at a local level.
Most of the films showed an emptiness and lack of social values, characteristic of any "confessional" school. Only two of them revealed a concern for the problems of our society, and, fortunately, there were the ones which won the first and second places (this, thanks to the jury, which included people like Gonzalo Martínez). The winning film was La fábrica [The Factory] by Arturo Meza.
This contest was held for one only time as it was part of the celebration of I don't know which nuns... or perhaps monks...
Of festivals we cannot speak, because there have been none.
Last year, the Cooperativa de Cine Marginal called for one which was never carried out. It is said that this year (1973) there will be one. But, who knows?
MEETING OF FILMMAKERS OF 8MM CINEMA
On February 10, 11 and 12 of 1972, the Casa del Lago organized an Encounter of Filmmakers of 8mm Cinema.
The little theater was filled day after day. Films of all tendencies were shown.
Personalities such as Luis Malle, Sergio Olhovich, Carlos Velo, José Agustín, José Luis Ibáñez, and many others, attended.
Everything went very well until the last day when a verbal "encounter" was [End Page 157] [Begin Page 159] programmed among the filmmakers, with the goal of drawing conclusions which would be for the benefit of 8mm cinema, but a real squabble broke out, which recalled the one at the Second Independent Cinema Contest, plainly revealing the ideological division existing between two already defined tendencies (the Cooperativa de Cine Marginal, and the remaining groups and workshops). [End Page 159] [Begin Page 161]
FOR ALFREDO ZAMARRIPA, ROBERTO D'LUNA, NINO GASTEASORO AND LUIS ALBERTO
One of the few people who has believed in 8mm cinema and in the commercial application of this format is Luis Gutiérrez y Prieto, who since the end of the 70s launched the program "Cable Cine-Club Super 8," which was produced by Alfredo Gurrola and consisted of interviews and comments on the 8mm Movement. This program featured personalities such as Juan José Gurrola, Víctor Fosado, Maximiliano Vega Tato, Miguel Dagdug, Tamara Garina, Felio Eliel, Colombia Moya, Manuel Michel and many others.
Later, Luis Gutiérrez managed to put the first images of 8mm cinema on TV, despite all the negative forecasts. No one had achieved this in Mexico, although it seems so easy, and even in the United States and in Japan, they are only now trying this on an experimental basis. This series of experiments reached its peak with the organization of a series of 8mm films on Cablevisión's channel 7 for a whole week, showing around 45 films in rotation.
Apart from the technical achievements, Luis always sympathized with this Movement, sponsoring films such as Avándaro, Pasiones [Passions] and La lucha [The Struggle]; the first two were transferred from super-8 to videotape and belong to Cablevisión. [End Page 161] [Begin Page 163]
* * *
On this the press said:
DURÁN CHÁVEZ VISITS CABLEVISIÓN
During a visit to the modern facilities of Cablevisión by a secretary general of the Section of Technicians and Manual Workers of STPC, Jorge Durán Chávez praised the talent of the new young filmmakers who had worked in super-8. He said: "The future of 8mm cinema is really extraordinary as it has shown its potential, great economic advantages."
On leaving, Durán Chávez talked with the chief of production and programming, Luis Gutiérrez y Prieto, and congratulated him on the idea of filming with the "wonderful 8mm cameras."
Furthermore, Durán Chávez encouraged Alfredo Gurrola, director of special events of the firm and the filmmaker Sergio García, who is in charge of the series "Semana Super 8," to continue to improve.
(Excélsior, June 1972.)
It is said that everyone speaks of the fair according to how he fared in it, and this is precisely what is going to happen shortly among those of us who work with the 8 and super-8 gauge.
On the one hand are those who say:
"Super 8 is the format of the future."
"Super 8, revolution and the future of TV."
"It cuts costs, makes for easy handling, gives a better image."
"The possibilities of super 8 cinema, are within reach now!" [End Page 163] [Begin Page 165]
And some go so far as to say:
"The Mexican Telesystem will use the super-8 film system in its news reports." (Jacobo Zabludovsky, El Heraldo de México, March 20, 1972.)
And on the other:
"Eight millimeter cinema must be essentially free."
"With no ties nor commitments, 8mm cinema must tackle themes which are forbidden to other means of communication."
"8mm cinema has no other censorship than that of the maker him self."
"8mm cinema can and must be a means of politicization, due to its many technical facilities and low cost."
Undoubtedly, the marketing of 8 or super-8 cinema is imminent, which I do not think means a danger to the freedom which currently characterizes it. On the contrary, I think it would be a beneficial "purge" because, at present, most makers are only waiting to get the name and reputation so they can squeeze into the industry. And, as an example of this, we have a long list of intranscendental films, which are but a crude pretense to make commercial cinema.
In some cases, it is like "daddy's boy," who wishes to become a lawyer or engineer to be "part of the upwardly mobile people." Hence, on being marketed, all those who only see $$$ will go like little soldiers, marching happily in search of "work"... purging, at the same time, the 8mm Cinematographic Movement.
And what is a romantic and idealist maker going to live on?
For the time being, on whatever he wishes, or whatever he can. [End Page 165] [Begin Page 167]
Because one can very well be an employee or technician or cameraman, or even a football player and be, at the same time, a cinema maker.
And I say "for the time being," because I think 8mm cinema, apart from its cinematographic and political purpose, can be widely developed as a means of education and information (first steps towards a revolution), even sponsored by universities, institutes and cultural centers.
Another way of recovering expenses and being able to live would be to create cine-clubs (a titanic chore, as in Mexico people are not used to this type of cinema; let's face it, not even to the traditional shorts); to tour universities (which some groups do, and look at the super equipment they have bought!) or, why not, to make social, folkloric, industrial, etc. documentaries for those willing to buy. As long as they do not betray their own principles and fight for the dignity of the Movement.
With this, I do not mean to say that directing a film in the industry is the end; of course not. It can even be quite the opposite. There is an Alberto Isaac, an Alfonso Arau and many other praiseworthy filmmakers who, if they want to and when they can, send out a few vibes.
What I do think is ominous is the mercenary-type maker who tries to lean on the Independent Cinema Movement to get ahead, not caring one bit about its transcendence.
That is why I affirm that, with marketing, and with the expanding use of the 8mm format in the existing media, those who want to enter the mass media will not have to disguise themselves as revolutionaries, as there will be an easier path. [End Page 167] [Begin Page 169]
* * *
FOR VERONICA FERNANDEZ
Having been born in a year of mass consciousness-raising (1968) 8mm cinema cannot and should not remain outside from the great problems that afflict the country.
Taking Paulo Freire's phrase "education as a practice of freedom" as a point of departure, 8mm cinema can contribute greatly towards the collective escape from alienation and the formation of an active critical consciousness. Given the technical requirements for filming and for projection, as well as the inexpen- siveness of the material, and the reduced equipment, 8mm cinema is called upon to be an antidote to the alienating media, giving back to the individual his/her function as subject, making him/her a direct participant in the work of cinema, since in traditional media and education the individual is a mere object.
Cinematic action on the side of the oppressed (whether economically, socially or culturally), in essence must be a cultural action for freedom, seeking to achieve this by way of dialogue, reflection and action.
Considering that 8mm cinema is not an everyday type of cinema (the cinema we are used to seeing); given the technical difficulties and creative qualities, we can conclude that 8mm cinema is ANOTHER CINEMA.
In-let's call it "normal"-cinema, there are three tendencies:
The so-called first cinema, that is: "commercial cinema."
The second: "art cinema." [End Page 169] [Begin Page 171]
The third: "political cinema."
In 8mm cinema there are, at present, these three tendencies of "normal" cinema (which is logical). However, the sum and substance lies in what we said before: we must be aware that it is another cinema; hence, another language, which, nonetheless, does not cease to be cinematographic. As occurs in literature: novels are one thing and short stories are another.
8mm should never and in no way imitate the so-called "commercial cinema" because, although it lacks the technical elements of the former, in exchange it has freedom of expression, as in this cinema there is neither censorship nor vested interests.
To make "art cinema" remains a vain pretension; however, maybe some people believe they are doing this, which is very relative, as art itself is.
To make "political cinema," yes. However, the problem lies in the fact that "political cinema" has become a cinema of propaganda, lacking in cinematographic language, except in a handful of cases (The Battle of Algiers).
8mm cinema "almost" has the obligation to be political, social, anthropological, and educational. But not with the formulas used, because, I repeat, the characteristics are not the same.
I believe, without claiming to establish a rule, that 8mm cinema must be brief, concise, and impactful; something like a poster, or-with due allowance-it must have the force of an advertisement.
A cinema that raises consciousness, but does not form it.
An accessible cinema (not necessarily obvious), subtle and of great force. Perhaps a film should not last over 15 or 20 minutes; largely relying on image and sound, eliminating dialogue as much as possible, and all (or almost all) types of symbols and subjective images. [End Page 171] [Begin Page 175]
I consider Víctor Ibarra Cruz a typical film of what 8mm cinema should be, a film which, in addition to being a poem, gives rise to dialogue or discussion.
And to conclude, I would like to list the solutions I believe are decisive for the continuance and development of the 8mm Cinematographic Movement:
1. Create a national network for projection, using the universities as the main center for action. This, on the basis of exchange.
2. Create specialized criticism to comment on everything that has to do with this Movement, trying to do so in a mass circulation newspapers or magazines.
3. Create (and this is the most important) an audience of followers, who enthusiastically support this type of cinema.
4. Try to find an accessible language, as a work is made with someone in mind.
5. Use familiar and already existing elements, with the aim of simplifying the understanding and comprehension of the films. For example, a "Santo" in 8mm who, instead of fighting mummies and monsters, fights large estate owners, black marketeers, gringos and other exploiters (this is for the interested in working with peasants and marginal classes, that is, the majority of the country).
6. Organize frequent projections, festival and cine-clubs.
(Numbers 7, 8, 9, etc. are for additional points that each reader may want to add).