Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Reel/Real World in Guanajuato

This is the week of Exprsion en Corto, the annual international short film festival in Guanajuato, when deciding what to see is a major task for the serious-ninded. These folks are catching their breath between sessions at the Teatro Principal. A friend told me the Kenneth Anger retrospective at midnight with Anger there talking about the films was his Festival high. Another friend said she was off to see (or resee?} Lawrence of Arabia. A woman I met at the bus stop near the state auditorium said she was seeing as much as possible, then turned aside to make a call on her cellphone. Less than a minute her ride arrived.

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This year, to simplify my life, I made documentaries my priority. I sat through footage and enacted text from diaries that summoned up the horrors in Nanking 1937; a moving recreation of the married love of two foreign photographers in Angangueo, Mex; a funny, techically brilliant Cuban film about Castro's fish-culture program; a woman's successful bid for a seat in the Afghan parliament. and more. I saw Muslim ritual slaughtering of goats and sheep in Queens, Filipinos shanghaied to serve food to U.S. soliers in Iraqi and a photographer destroyed by his own success at showing tragedy in Africa.

By today, I was ready for "Native New Yorker," for the most part a deceptively simple. rhythmic tribute in black and white to the Big Apple as the camera follows a Native American with the whole of the city as his trail.

Expresion en Corto, founded by Sarah Hoch, brings the world to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato in a way that only the moving image and well-chosen words can do. With their combination of light, color, drama and sound track, for me documentaries are the hertrending 21st Century equivalent of grand opera.

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