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Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources

Coapa Heights

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Friday 11/6
9:00 pm
FREE Please RSVP if you plan to attend

FOR FILMS AND EVENTS PRESENTED BY IHP, Tickets ARE Also Available From the IHP Box Office, which is normally open Tue-Sat from noon-8pm (or, for events outside of those times, from one hour before until one hour after the scheduled starting time).  
call 215.895.6590. 

dir. Yibrán Asuad, 1999, Video, 66 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles

This is the story of a day like any other day in the life of Erick and Harris, a couple of loose cannonballs trying to score their next fix in the streets of Villa Coapa. Once a thriving suburbia, Coapa soon gave way to a monotonous landscape of endless shopping malls and fast food restaurants, the dulling background that frames the ludicrous misadventures of the protagonists. Martín Altomaro, Flor Edwarda Gurrola, Diego Luna, are some of the young recognizable faces to star in the directorial debut of Yibrán Asuad. Coapa Heights is a fast paced, over the top epic modeled around urban narratives of drugs, violence and car cruising reminiscent of other cult films of the period such as Dany Boyle’s Trainspotting, Jan Kounen’s Dobermann, or Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango. Indeed one of the rarely seen, true gems of the indie underground of Mexican cinema.


Preceded by:

El secuestro de montserrat

dir. Guillermo Fadanelli,  Mexico, 1994, Video,  22 min.


Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources excavates the expanded media landscape that significantly shaped urban cinema culture in 1990s Mexico. The fiction, documentary, and experimental shorts and features in the series were the product of a vast, cross-medial horizon that was catalyzed by a vibrant video scene and a rising cinema culture.  Energized by the sense of the present as a unique moment, and by a dynamic and vital youth culture, the films draw from a rich audiovisual repertoire that includes music videos, talk shows, avant-garde video and performance practices, advertising, as well as established genres and styles. What characterizes this body of works are the remix aesthetics and rhythmic, rapid editing that became the emblematic “look” of the 1990s.


All of the films explore the meaning of the urban through moving images by focusing on a distinct neighborhood of Mexico City through particular genres (Perfume de violetasCómodas mensualidades) or by highlighting the city’s cosmopolitan, trans-urban connections (Fronterilandia¿Quién diablos es Juliette?). Three veritable “indies,” rarely screened outside Mexico – TequilaTodos están muriendo aquí, and the riotously nonsensical Coapa Heights – unravel the experimental art and music scenes that thrived in 1990s Mexico City by, documenting the venues, practices and artists that constituted these milieus.  Marked by the youthful energy of directors and actors, a distinctive sense of irreverence and contestation, as well as a defiant, DIY attitude in the face of precariousness, these works constitute unique registers of the thrills and challenges of making moving images in Mexico City during a turbulent decade. Each feature will be preceded by a short film.

Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources is curated by WalterForsberg, Paulina Suárez and Eduardo Thomas and presented by International House Philadelphia in partnership with The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design. The series is organized in conjunction with Strange Currencies: Art & Action in Mexico City, 1990-2000, on view at The Galleries atMoore September 19 – December 12, 2015.  Major support for Strange Currencies: Art & Action in Mexico City, 1990-2000 has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Mexican Cultural Center and the Consulate General of Mexico in Philadelphia.  Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources is also supported by the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía. Learn more about Strange Currencies here.