Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources
Todos están muriendo aquí (Everyone is Dying Here)
dir. Ali Gardocki , Mexico, 2000, Video, 80 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
post-film Q&A with director Ali Gardoki
Ali Gardocki’s thesis project for the CCC film school (Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica) provides both an ethnographic record and playful engagement with Mexico City’s alternative music scene. A movie portrait of the raw and raucous all-female musical group Las Ultrasónicas, Gardocki’s documentary is part-home video, part-concert film, told through an amalgam of cinematic styles and raw improvisational montage. Featuring everyday footage and on-stage performances by the protagonists, the musicians that constitute Las Ultras, we follow the lives of vocalists Suzy and Tere, guitarist Ali, drummer Jenny, and bassist Jessy, as they trail-blaze feminine roles within a male-dominated music mainstream. With its impressive rockumentary ambition, its shaky and visceral camerawork, and the gratuitous ripple-dissolves that appear as visual echoes from the soundtrack’s over-modulation, Todos están muriendo aquí can be seen as a Mexican paragon of the Mini-DV era explosion of DV and DIY non-linear editing that emerged across North America circa 1997-2000.
Víctimas del pecado neoliberal
dir. Ximena Cuevas & Jesusa Rodríguez, Mexico, 1995, Video, 15 min.
EXPERIMENTAL GROUNDS / UNEXPECTED SOURCES
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 violetas, Cómodas mensualidades) or by highlighting the city’s cosmopolitan, trans-urban connections (Fronterilandia, ¿Quién diablos es Juliette?). Three veritable “indies,” rarely screened outside Mexico – Tequila, Todos 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.