The acclaimed Mexican documentary feature films Matria (pictured left) by Fernando Llanos by Bering. Balance and Resistance / (Bering. Equilibrio y Resistencia) by Lourdes Grobet will have their long-awaited U.S. premiere as part of the official selection of the 2015 Margaret Mead Film Festival, which will take place October 22-25 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Winner of the Best Documentary Film at the Morelia Film Festival, Llano’s debut feature tells the story of Antolín Jiménez, who was one of Mexico’s most distinguished charros or horsemen. He fought alongside Pancho Villa, represented the state of Oaxaca in Congress, and was the president of the National Charro Association. In 1942, as rumors spread of a Nazi invasion of Mexico, Jiménez formed and trained a group of 100,000 fighters to repel the attack.
Seventy years later, Jimenez’s grandson Llanos brings us the film Matria, tracing the director’s quest to understand more about his mysterious grandfather and the culture of charros in the mid-20th century. Deeply rooted family secrets are unearthed in the process, and what begins as a character profile becomes an entangled story of family lore and a window into the history of modern Mexico.
In Bering. Balance and Resistance (pictured right), Lourdes Grobet, one of Mexico’s most renowned photographers–probably best to American audiences for her series on Mexican professional wrestling– takes a lyrical approach to the fabled Bering Strait and the Little and Big Diomede Islands, which is the border between the United States and Russia, straddling the International Date Line.
These remote outposts are home to a small Inuit community that has traversed these borders for years, for trade, hunting, and festivals. Grobet closely follows the day-to-day lives of the residents of Little Diomede, U.S.A., as they balance a modern lifestyle with the preservation of ancient customs and language. Slow-moving, wide-angle cinematography makes for an immersive viewing experience of the punishing Arctic, one that invokes Flaherty’s classic, Nanook of the North.