Shorts program, running time 105 min.
Introduced by Steve Macfarlane and Juana Sapire
The Land Burns / La Tierra Quema
Raymundo Gleyzer, 1964, 16mm, 12 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Made at a time when 2% of Brazil’s population owned 80% of its arable land, The Land Burns was the first in Gleyzer’s intended sequence of radical dossiers of exploitation across Latin America. The film’s protagonist is 35-year-old farmer Juan Amaro, whose struggles with child mortality and dry harvests form a devastating portrayal of dwindling options in the face of agrarian capitalism.
Pottery Makers / Ceramiqueros de Tras la Sierra
Raymundo Gleyzer, 1966, 16mm-to-digital, 25 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Collectively made in the Cordoba province, Ceramiqueros profiles a handful of different pottery-makers who sell their work to visiting tourists – but the main character is Alcira López de López, whose struggles are shown in a light consistent with Gleyzer’s longer-form work, taking care to bring awareness to the role played by women both in earning money and maintaining home life. Even if it initially appears a traditional ethnographic survey, the film wastes little time in questioning the merits of its own existence (and of cinema as a tool for economic change at large).
Mexico, the Frozen Revolution / México, la Revolución Congelada
Raymundo Gleyzer, 1973, 16mm, 65 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
Clandestinely made, The Frozen Revolution diagnoses the relationship between Mexico’s ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and the revolution of 1910. Archival footage of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata feasting in landowner mansions is juxtaposed with the gaudy spectacle of CIA-backed PRI candidate Luis Echeverría’s presidential campaign, whereby untenable promises are made to illiterate campesinos across the country half a century later. Away from that spotlight, food shortages and neofeudal export flows rule the day; the film registers the refusal of cosmopolitan Mexicans, leaning instead into a Euro-centric lifestyle, to see prior generations of struggle as consistent with the controversial leftist movements roiling the hemisphere in Gleyzer’s time.
Widely heralded as Gleyzer’s nonfiction masterpiece, Mexico’s ultimate symbol of PRI hypocrisy is in the Tlatelolco Massacre just days before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, wherein military police killed over 400 demonstrators – a decision which got the film banned in Argentina and Gleyzer declared persona non grata in Mexico thereafter (creating further headaches after the film won the Golden Leopard at the 1972 Locarno Film Festival). Juana Sapire presented Mexico in multiple cities at the 2007 Ambulante Film Festival, nearly four decades after it was banned by the PRI.
Print courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
El Cine de Quema is supported by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation.
Total running time: 105 min.