Friday, April 24, 2009
|7:00 p.m.||Al más allá|
Lourdes Portillo (U.S., 2008)
Persistence of Vision Award Recipient Lourdes Portillo in Person
A documentary film crew arrives at a tranquil aqua-toned beach town on Mexico’s Mayan coast, chasing the story of three fishermen who happened upon a wayward package of cocaine—flotsam from a steady narco-stream flowing up from South America en route to northern markets. The fishermen sold it to the local police chief, who warned them (in vain) not to spend their money in town and prophesied, “Whatever comes from the ocean, has to go back to the ocean.” “I think it will take a few days to nail this one down,” opines real-life sound recordist José Araújo to the crew’s somewhat flustered and self-important director, played by renowned Mexican actress Ofelia Medina—a delightfully arch stand-in for this sly, prodding little film’s real-life director, acclaimed Bay Area–based filmmaker Lourdes Portillo. Gazing at a nearby ruin, meanwhile, Portillo’s fictional alter ego resolves, “I have to find out what this has to do with the Mayas.” A playfully serpentine, semi-fictionalized investigation of a true incident thus de-centers its ostensible subject—three fishermen who never do appear, increasingly seeming the stuff of parable—while undercutting the “heroic” pretensions of the documentary genre itself. What emerges is a rumination on globalization’s violent erasure of local culture, but also on the manufacture of stories and the circulation of “truths” as the counterparts, and uneasy accomplices, of circulating goods, services, and people in a voracious economic system that leaves much more than the occasional bag of narcotics in its wake.
• Written by Portillo. Photographed by Kyle Kibbe, Antonio Scarlata. With Ofelia Medina. (43 mins)