Tropical Uncanny


Tropical Uncanny:
Latin American Tropes & Mythologies

August 8 – September 26, 2014
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

A film companion to the exhibit "Under the Same Sun" curated by Pablo León de la Barra, “Tropical Uncanny” is a playful and irreverent revision of some of Latin America's political, social, cultural, and cinematic tropes. Toying with concepts such as the New World, revolution, domestic workers, the favela, and pre-Columbian paradise, this film series challenges and subverts notions of subjectivity and the construction of the otherness south of the border. Mixing fiction, documentary, and experimental work from recent, repertoire, and archival material, as well as suggesting dialogues between filmmakers and visual artists, this program rethinks the representation of Latin America both at home and abroad.

Programmed by Carlos A. Gutiérrez, in collaboration with Jerónimo Rodríguez.

Special Special thanks to Amalia Córdova, Chris Gude, Raúl Guzmán, Pablo León de la Barra, Corey Sabourin, Maria-Christina Villaseñor and Christina Yang.

Thanks to Dora Amorim, CinemaScopio; Agustina Chiarino, Control Z Films; Amanda Guimarães and Rachel Daisy Ellis, Desvia; Marilys Downey; Alex García and Sandro Fiorin, FiGa Films; Natalia Trebik, Le Fresnoy; and Jessy Vega, Interior XIII.

Full Schedule

Friday, August 8, 1pm
‘Remapping the New World’
Journey to a Land Otherwise Known / Voyage En La Terre Autrement Dite
(Laura Huertas Millán, Colombia/France, 2011, 22 min. In French with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Nefandus (Carlos Motta, U.S./Colombia, 2013, 13 min. In Spanish and Kogi with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Ex Isto / Ex It (Cao Guimarães, Brazil, 2010, 86 min. In Portuguese, with English subtitles)
Three visual artists reconsider the ‘New World,’ providing provocative alternative cartographies. Laura Huertas Millán’s Journey to a Land Otherwise Know—shot at a tropical greenhouse in Lille, France—uses textual accounts by European colonizers to create a fake ethnography of the New World critical of the ever-prevailing exoticism. In Carlos Motta’s visual essay Nefandus, an indigenous man and a Spanish-speaking man tell stories about acts of sodomy that took place in the Americas during the conquest, while Carlos Guimarães Ex Isto presents a historical provocation imaging French philosopher René Descartes on a tropical journey in Brazil. Followed by a discussion with director Carlos Motta.

Friday, August 15, 1pm
‘Under the Same Stars’
Agarrando pueblo / The Vampires of Poverty
(Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo, Colombia, 1978, 27 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Estrellas / Stars (Federico León and Marcos Martínez, Argentina, 2007, 64 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
‘Under the Same Stars’ offers a humorous meditation on the portrayal of poverty in Latin America, and the ways the poor are manipulated by the local and transnational media. Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo’s 1978 classic Agarrando Pueblo is a scathing satire of what they characterized as “poverty-porn,” while Federico León and Marcos Martínez’s documentary feature Stars follows a group of residents from a shantytown in the outskirts of Buenos Aires who find professional careers playing poor people in film and television productions.

Friday, August 22, 1pm
‘Gone Native’
Día dos / Day Two
(Dante Cerano, Mexico, 2004, 23 min. In P'urhepecha and Spanish, English subtitles)
The Laughing Alligator (Juan Downey, U.S./Venezuela 1979, 27 min. In English)
Sip’Ohi, l lugar del manduré / Sip’Ohi, Manduré’s Place (Sebastián Lingardi, Argentina, 2011, 63 min. In Wichí with English subtitles)
Three works made by very dissimilar artists present an ideal opportunity to showcase the limits and pitfalls of ethnographic cinema. In Day Two, director Dante Cerano provides an ironic portrait of the second day of a P'urhepecha wedding ceremony. Juan Downey challenges the anthropological gaze of the Yanomami in his irreverent The Laughing Aligator, while in Sebastián Lingardi’s Sip’Ohi, Manduré’s Place, an indigenous man returns to his hometown with the aim of listening and collecting stories of ichí culture, transmitted orally from generation to generation. Followed by a discussion with special guest Amalia Córdova.

Friday, August 29, 1pm
‘Cold Front’
Recife Frio / Cold Tropics
(Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil, 2009, 24 min. In Spanish, Portuguese, and French with English subtitles)
Los guantes mágicos / The Magic Gloves (Martín Rejtman, Argentina/France, 2003, 90 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
A fictitious drastic temperature drop in Recife and Buenos Aires offer an excellent starting point for two cherished South American filmmakers to create poignant and multilayered critiques about globalization and late capitalism. Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighboring Sounds) creates a satirical mockumentary chronicling an odd weather phenomenon and its local effects in Cold Tropics. In the absurdist comedy The Magic Gloves, Argentinean director Martín Rejtman delivers his distinctive deadpan humor in a story about two dysfunctional middle-class couples struggling to make ends meet.

Friday, September 5, 1pm
‘Musical Mayhem’
Touching from a Distance
(Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, U.S., 2008. 6 min. No dialogue)
Marimbas del infierno / Marimbas from Hell (Julio Hernández Cordón, Guatemala/Mexico, 2010, 74 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In the hybrid comedy Marimbas from Hell, Julio Hernández Cordón tells the feverish story of the improbable artistic collaboration between two wretched musicians: Don Alfonso, a homeless marimba player, and Blacko, a pioneer of Guatemalan heavy metal music. The film is preceded by Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere’s Touching from a Distance, which serves as a musical appetizer toying with the idea of the fragmentation of the public space to the rhythms of mariachi music.

Friday, September 12, 1pm
‘Nueva York’
Recordando el Ayer
(Alexandra Cuesta, 2007, 9 min. No dialogue)
Pareces una carreta de esa que no la para ni lo’ bueye / You look like a carriage that not even the oxen can stop (Nelson Carlo, U.S./Dominican Republic, 2012, 85 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
‘Nueva York’ offers an off-kilter representation of the city. Ecuadorean artist Alexandra Cuesta presents an experimental portrayal of Jackson Heights in Recordando el Ayer, where memory and identity are observed through the textures of everyday life. Dominican-born Nelson Carlo, in his elegantly-crafted debut documentary feature film, follows Gladys and her daughter who share their isolated lives in an apartment in Washington Heights, creating an unsettling portrait of the two women.

Friday, September 19, 1pm
‘TV or Not to Be’
Cinépolis: La capital del cine / Cinepolis: The Movie Capital
(Ximena Cuevas, Mexico, 2003, 22 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Ismar (Gustavo Beck, Brazil, 2007, 12 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Un día / One Day (Leonardo Sagástegui, Peru, 2002, 19 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Tómbola / Raffle (Ximena Cuevas, Mexico, 2001, 8 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
‘TV or Not to Be,’ is the question embraced by Ximena Cuevas, Gustavo Beck and Leonardo Sagástegui. With her characteristic and unflinching humor, Cuevas offers two critical takes on mass media and the society of consumption. Beck sketches a portrait of Ismar, contrasting the naivety of a kid fueled by the allure of television with a person searching for his own identity, and Sagástegui himself becomes a contestant on a popular game show, in his caustic performance-driven piece One Day. Followed by a discussion with director Gustavo Beck.

Saturday, September 20, 6pm
‘The Ordinary Unspoken’
Ebb and Flow / A Onda Traz, O Vento Leva
(Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil/Spain, 2012, 28 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Hiroshima (Pablo Stoll, Uruguay/Colombia/ Argentina/Spain, 2009, 79 min. No dialogue with English intertitles. New York Premiere)
In ‘The Ordinary Unspoken’ two filmmakers, one Brazilian, the other Uruguayan, push verbal language to its cinematographic limits. Gabriel Mascaro’s Ebb and Flow follows a young deaf man who installs car stereos in a small dealership, while Pablo Stoll presents an unlikely slacker silent film—with the clever use of intertitles— about a young man who sings in a rock band in the sui generis Hiroshima.

Friday, September 26, 1pm
‘Domestic Dialectic’
El palacio / The Palace
(Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada, 2013, 36 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Amelia & Morena (Andrea Franco, Peru/USA, 2010, 10 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Reimon (Rodrigo Moreno, Argentina/Germany, 2014. 72 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
The figure of the maid embodies a plethora of Latin America’s gender, social and class contradictions. In ‘Domestic Dialetic’ three filmmakers present varied fiction and non-fiction perspectives on the realitites of servants in the contemporary world. Nicolás Pereda’s The Palace follows the everyday lives of 17 women who live together and are trained for various jobs, including as domestic workers. Amelia & Morena by Andrea Franco depicts the relationship between a young woman and her long-time maid, and Rodrigo Moreno’s Reimon is a poignant portrait of a young woman who works as a maid in a pretentiously liberal household.