This year Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence but also 100 years of our Revolution.
The Mexican Revolution was a civil war with a mismatch of aspirations from the very disparate strata of Mexican society, and this was expressed in slogans.
"Sufragio efectivo, no reeleccion" (effective vote, no re-election) was what the middle and upper liberal classes demanded after 30 years of iron fist dictatorship that strangled aspirations of educated but badly connected people, the caricature of this sees the then Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz surrounded by old yes men wishing that the President would declare himself king or emperor while educated younger people languish without access to real political power.
"Tierra y libertad" (land and freedom), "La tierra es de quien la trabaja" (land is for whom makes it produce) were slogans of Emiliano Zapata, the farmer and labourer that wanted only to ensure that the unfair control of big land owners was curbed, which in many cases had quasi feudal rights over their labourers.
Those demands added to unrest in all kind of industries due to Marxist ideas, until finally a losing candidate in the decidedly rigged elections, decided to stand up to the dictator.
That person was Franciso I. Madero, naive, idealist and doomed to fall under the pressure of the dark forces that have always accompanied Mexican history.
The ideals of the Mexican Revolution were of social progress, some of those goals were achieved, some others have never been addressed (specially for the Native people in the country).
Suffice to say that the Revolution is a major landmark and most Mexicans are genuinely proud that we had it in us to say no to oppression and injustice (even if after that we began to kill each other....).
- Revolucion (the film)
So yesterday I watched this Mexican film, part of the LFF, which was comissioned by the Mexican government to reflect about this important period in our history.
The format is interesting, 10 directors were asked to make a short film, they had free reign, the only constraint was that it had to be in modern times.
There were several well known names, Gael Garcia Bernal directed a short in which a boy is confronted by situations that challenge his core beliefs (religion and patriotism).
Carlos Raygadas, the king of slow world cinema (check his movies, they are infuriatingly slow at times but deeply human) just brought together a bunch of people to his country house from all ways of life, from rich kids and fa miles, a transvestite, poor ranchers and beggars and threw a party for them, giving 8 cameras to renowned Mexican camera men and then edited the result. Very telling what happens when all the social conventions go out of the window, lubricated with a bit of tequila and beer.
Another salient short was the one in which a woman, who is paid nowadays with coupons that can be used only in the supermarket where she works, finally stands up for her (and everybody's rights) in an unequal legal battle (in pre-revolutionary Mexico landlords and all kind of employers used to pay on a similar manner to their workers, with the added insult of inflating prices in the shops that they controlled, so it was terribly poignant to be reminded that this practice has not entirely gone away).
Another of the shorts shows a busy street in Los Angeles, in the occupied Mexican territory of California as my grand dad used to say, where nothing remarkable is happening, when all of the sudden a ghostly group of Revolutionary soldiers walk along the street, some are cavalry, some other infantry (men and the famous "soldaderas" or female soldiers) and they carry an injured man and a prisoner. All this is shot in very slow motion, which gives the soldiers an air of dignity like reminding any Mexican watching the moral stature of many of the people that fought on those wars.
Although the shorts were uneven (can somebody tell to young filmmakers that tripods exist for a reason?) they were all well intentioned and in most cases well executed.
Very watchable, but it may be decidedly only for Mexican eyes, since many cultural clues will pass over the head of other audiences.
@@@ out of 5
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