Carlos Reygadas here in person to present and discuss Post Tenebras Lux

Screening: Saturday, April 27, 8:00 p.m., Rich Theatre


For the final night of Extraordinary Visions: Mexico Past and Present Through the Eyes of Gabriel Figueroa and Carlos Reygadas, we are honored to be hosting director Carlos Reygadas for the advanced screening of his new film Post Tenebras Lux (2012), the work which earned him the best director prize at this past year’s Cannes Film Festival. After the film, we’ll have a chance to sit down with Mr. Reygadas and ask him about this mystifying, ambitious, jaw-dropping-ly beautiful new work as well as the rest of his career. For a teaser, see the images below as well as the wonderful interview about his film and his upcoming visit to Atlanta on Burnaway.

For tickets to the Saturday, April 27th Conversation with Carlos Reygadas and Screening of Post Tenebras Lux, click HERE. Please also note that this film is not yet rated and may contain scenes not suitable for all viewers. mar




Screening: Saturday, April 20, 8:00 p.m., Rich Theatre


Made in 2010 on the occasion of the Mexican Revolution’s centennial, Revolución brings together 10 of Mexico’s most prominent contemporary filmmakers to explore the meaning of revolution for Mexico today. Each short film reveals a radically different perspective on the concept, demonstrating both the complexity of Mexico’s contemporary political consciousness as well as the dynamism of current Mexican filmmaking. The featured directors include the subject of our film series, Carlos Reygadas, as well as: Mariana Chenillo, Fernando Eimbcke, Amat Escalante, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo Garcia, Diego Luna, Gerardo Naranjo, Rodrigo Pla, and Patricia Riggen.


For tickets to the Saturday, April 20 screening of Revolución, click HERE.

Japón (2002)

Screening: Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre


Japón, Carlos Reygadas’ first feature film, was shot on 16 mm Cinescope, which lends the vast landscapes of Hidalgo and the weathered creases of our protagonist’s face their particular texture in this film. As critic J. Hoberman wrote, “More eccentric than overweening, less cosmic than intractable, Japón’s allegorical aspect is almost always subsumed in a material sense of the film as object. This movie feels arduously made and newly exhumed, having the aspect ratio and warm, bleached tinge of a vintage spaghetti western.”

A.O. Scott waxed poetic along the same aesthetic lines: “If Japón is unapologetically abstract, preferring metaphysics to narrative, it is also bracingly, even abrasively sensual. The director seems to want to push through the barriers that separate sight from the other senses: even on screen the washed-out, metallic light seems to have a temperature and a taste. When clouds shadow the landscape, you sense a change in humidity as well as luminosity. The spiraling camera movements suggest an intension not just to show you the whole world but to plunge you into the midst of it. Mr. Reygadas wants you to feel the roughness of the stones, the chill of the rain and–especially–the passage of time.”


As with all of Reygadas’ films, however, the grandiosity of the cinematic image and the awe-inspiring grace of the natural world find an ugly counterpoint in human frailty, suffering, cruelty, and carnal desire. Our protagonist has left Mexico City in search of his final resting place and the gumption to go through with his suicide. He beats a trail of existential dread through the glorious mountains of central Mexico, and the awakening of his brute sexuality threatens to corrupt the peace and compassion of others. But Ascen, the elderly widow who takes him in, meets all his dark indulgences and self-serious ponderings with the openheartedness and levelheadedness of the most saintly of humans. Indeed, it is through her that Japón offers up its great compromise between nature and the flesh, as the boundlessness of her humanity comes to be nothing short of divine.

For tickets to the Saturday, April 13th screening of Japón, click HERE.

Silent Light (2007)

Screening: Saturday, April 6, 8 p.m. Rich TheatreSilentLight1

This Saturday we have our first film from world-renowned art cinema director and contemporary Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas. At its 2007 release Silent Light won five Ariel Awards (Mexico’s equivalent to the Oscars), the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and many other international prizes.

A story of a Mennonite family living in rural Mexico and the events and emotions that test the faith of the family’s patriarch, Silent Light is inspired by—one might even say it’s a remake of—Danish director Carol Theodor Dreyer’s 1955 film Ordet. Like its source material, Silent Light is organized around the problem of photographing, seeing, and believing in the transcendent. It’s part of the richly paradoxical tradition of religious-realist films, which combine a naturalist attention to “ordinary life” with capturing the spiritual world of divine happenings. There would appear to be an unavoidable friction between depicting everyday, material existence and portraying something like a divine miracle or any other event that belongs to a realm beyond proof, beyond material evidence, beyond the photographic image. How, after all, does one faithfully represent an intangible entity?

Silent Light gracefully delves into this contradiction, however, by evoking the transcendent through the everyday. In this movie we can never point to the existence of divine action, but ordinary objects—the human face, the ticking of time, the natural world, the simple turning over of a day—all this slowly bends toward evidencing the transcendent. 

Famed film critic and theorist Andre Bazin wrote of Ordet, “Within this universe which is more conscious of mystery, the supernatural does not loom up from outside. It is pure immanence, revealed in its extremity as the ambiguity of nature.” Silent Light‘s beginning long-take of the sun rising and of the sun setting at film’s end exemplify the supernatural, pure immanence in the ambiguity of nature that Bazin see in Ordet. These scenes ask the viewer to meditate on the “everyday” quality of nature, while their spectacle and sheer beauty bespeak a daily miracle and call forth that most famous first miracle, “Let there be light.”SilentLight2

Indeed, sunlight inflects almost every moment of this film, and in its rare absence other natural forces present themselves. The skies open up and rain pours to take away a beloved wife and mother in a seemingly divine deluge, the echoes of which resound in the holy water that washes the film’s young and dead. We wade through hilltop prairies and watch the clouds roll in. Nature rains down, rises up, and shines upon us, performing something greater than its mere elements, and yet we can only consume its textural surface. It comes up to meet us at the very limits both of our senses and of the filmic medium itself, as sunlight refracts and separates through the camera’s vision and water splashes against the lens. These natural forces glimmer and soak our view, but there is no penetrating them to find some ultimate truth or some definitive image of a god; we can only receive them as they are and stare in wonder at the spiritual essence they may harbor.

Light and nature find a brilliant reprisal in the final, climactic miracle of Silent Light: a resurrection. The scene presents an ostensibly insurmountable challenge to a realist aesthetic, for with such an explicit invocation of a higher power, what other choice does a religious-realist film have but to fall back into the safe territory of pure representation—of finally picturing the undepictable force by which the transcendent occurs? But Silent Light once again finds a way to picture only pure immanence and faith in, not the factual existence of, the transcendent. 

Dressed in stark white, the deceased lies amid pearly linens, her white coffin a lonely island in her immaculate surroundings. This last, white room seems to be a transitional space to the bright light flooding in through the windows, overexposed to spiritual excess. If it is God, natural light, or both that summons the deceased, it is also the natural world. Right before the miracle occurs, a character holds up her hand in a commonplace gesture to block the sun from hitting her eyes, but the camera lingers, her arm extended toward the heavens. A cut to a point-of-view shot shows her hand over the sun. Through sheer duration, this shot transforms a common gesture into a miraculous acceptance of grace from the heavens, a grace which she will pass on to the dead.  

You’ll have to come to the screening to see what happens next. But I will say, in the end we have only a butterfly that flutters around the room before escaping through the window into nature; whether it is earthly existence or eternal bliss is left unspoken in the face of a slow sequence of landscapes that culminates in the last, dark sinking of the sun.

For tickets to the Saturday, April 6 screening of Silent Light go HERE.

Carlos Reygadas Films Starting Saturday April 6!

We’ve had a wonderful first half of our film series looking at five works from legendary Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. While we’re taking this upcoming Saturday off, please return Saturday, April 6 to kick off the Carlos Reygadas half of the series. Reygadas is a huge figure on the global art cinema stage who is just coming off his Best Director win at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. reygadas[1]

The leading auteur on Mexico’s flourishing film scene, Reygadas makes tranquil, aesthetically jaw-dropping pictures that tell the strange stories of niche communities across Mexico. Punctuated by brief but harsh encounters with sex and violence, his films constantly push the boundary of both contemporary Mexican cinema and world cinema while maintaining a firm foothold in the established traditions of art film.SilentLight2

Our first film–screening on Saturday, April 6–is the graceful, astounding movie Silent Light (2007) which won five of Mexico’s top prizes as well as the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Look back here shortly for more information and analysis of this great film which is, I have to admit, a personal favorite.

Enamorada (1946)

Screening: Saturday, March 23, 8pm, Rich Theatre


Another beloved Mexican Golden Age film from dynamic duo cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and director Emilio Fernández, Enamorada tells a tale of love and woe set during the Mexican Revolution. In a story inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, it’s hard not to fall in love with Enamorada‘s Pedro Armendáriz and María Félix–especially during their serenade scene, which Gabriel Figueroa inflects with the kind of romantic luminosity for which he became famous. 

For tickets to the Saturday, March 23rd screening of Enamorada, click HERE.

María Candelaria (1946)

Screening: Saturday, March 16, 8:00 p.m., Rich Theatre

MariaCandelariaPhotofestAs we continue our romance with Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematography, the fourth film in our series gives us the arresting landscapes and emotive close-ups that made Figuera a legend. Indeed, María Candelaria won Figueroa the prize for best cinematography at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival and still stands as one of the most beautiful films in all of Mexican film history.

The Exterminating Angel

Screening: Saturday, March 9, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre, 35mm*


For the third film in our Extraordinary Visions series, we’re proud to present The Exterminating Angel by director Luis Buñuel and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Nominated for the Palme d’Or in 1962 and a time-tested treasure of both Mexican and international film history, this film is at once anarchic, hilarious, and impossibly dark. To wet your cinematic apetite, look below for pics, clips, and quotes.

“Luis Buñuel’s ferociously brilliant The Exterminating Angel is one of his most provocative and unforgettable works. In it we watch a trivial breach of etiquette transform into the destruction of civilization. Not only does this story undermine our confidence in our social institutions but it challenges our powers of cognition and perception, which are shown to be easily distorted by unreliable narratives. Perhaps most threatening, despite the emotional distance from the characters that Buñuel’s satiric vision grants us, we are ultimately forced to see that we in the audience are also objects of his attack.

“When the thin veneer of civilization breaks down, Buñuel’s bourgeois guests descend into brutal savagery, breaking down walls to get at water pipes, committing suicide and demanding the sacrificial death of the host, and turning to magic, dreams, and narrative for consolation and release. Their mysterious inability to leave the room is experienced as a failure of will–perhaps no more mysterious than the one that prevents citizens from changing the totally corrupt economic, social, and political system on which their own privileges (and the miseries of the servants and other have-nots) are based.”

–Marsha Kinder, Criterion Collection Essay

Exterminating[1]“One of the most truly surrealistic works ever filmed–in some ways even more so than the Buñuel/Dali classic Un Chien AndalouThe Exterminating Angel is as powerful today as when it was shot, and as original.

“…for Buñuel, hell is not just other people but, more importantly, a social structure that destroys and deforms human relations. That’s why it makes an excellent companion to the very different Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones, 1950), about youth in a Mexico City slum. There, poverty makes human dignity difficult to maintain and violence runs rampant–exacly the sort of behavior that elicits a sneering reaction from the protagonists of Exterminating Angel, who feel that decorum is breached merely when a jacket is removed at a formal evening. What they undergo, however, breaks down (for the audience at least) that smug sense of superiority.”

–Karen Backstein, CineasteExterminating2

*Print Courtesy of Academy Film Archive

For tickets to the Saturday, March 9th screening of The Exterminating Angel, click HERE.

Los olvidados (1950)

Screening: Saturday, March 2nd, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre, 35mm

Los olvidados (1950 Mexico)  aka The Forgotten Ones<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Directed by Luis Bunuel

If you’re anything short of a Luis Buñuel expert, the famous film director might be a point of perennial confusion–could the 1920s surrealist behind Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or (1930) really be the same guy as the cine d’art post-modernist behind Belle de Jour (1967) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie (1972)?  And what’s that? Yhis guy’s not even French, but Spanish? And what’s this now? He also made a full 20 feature films in Mexico between 1946 and 1965?

All this and more makes Buñuel one of cinema’s most important figures, as well as one of its more confusing. For the second film in our Extraordinary Visions series, we’re lucky enough to have one of his most beloved films and the one that marked both his return to the international film stage and a turning point in Mexican film history: Los olvidados (The Forgotten Ones or The Young and the Damned) (1950).

An unflinching look at Mexico City’s street hooligans, Los olvidados departed from the romanticism of its contemporaneous neorealist projects to portray a downtrodden world of innumerable cruelties and few, if any, routes of escape or opportunities for redemption. As Dominique Russell describes, Buñuel “turns Mexico’s sacred national myths inside out” and “anticipates the New Latin American cinema’s turn away from the studio sets towards reality in the streets.” For this, Buñuel took a lot of heat from those who received the film as an offensive attack on Mexican society, but he also won best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival and garnered acclaim far and wide in the international film community. He would, however, never again attempt to stare head on at social injustice’s raw conditions and unmitigated brutality; he would instead carry out his brilliant career from a perch of critical (and at times, snarky) remove, satirizing the bourgeoisie and laying bare the absurdities of capitalist society with hardly a glance edgewise to those trampled by the system. His other films are spectacular and daring in their own ways, but Los olvidados risks bringing things like heart and hopelessness to the table where his later work speaks primarily through calcified cynicism or the strange, defeated cackles of a madman.

As unique as Los olvidados is within Buñuel’s exalted career, the film materializes as a masterpiece only once we consider another all too important variable in its production: renowned cinematographer and subject of our film series, Gabriel Figueroa. For as unprecedented as Los olvidados‘s themes were and as shocking as its course of events was, this film unfolds most stunningly in its visual textures. It is Figueroa’s camera that knows when to lead us straight into this dog eat dog world, taking on a gaze and movement as if it were itself a street urchin navigating the crowds or baring witness to a searing act of violence. And it is Figueroa’s camera that knows just how to sit back and take in the rubble and cacti or plunge us, all of a sudden, into the shadowed corners and other-worldly light of a troubled home. A pigeon, piercing white, glides along a woman’s naked back. Clouds blaze overexposed in the sky. Milk splashes across a girl’s limbs. A boy’s crisp shirt is instantly sullied by his misfortune. A shower of feathers floats down, catching a nightmare’s uncanny light before they rest about the wounds of the deceased. As much as Los olvidados is Buñuel’s masterpiece of social realism, it is Figueroa’s surrealist play of light and darkness, purity and decay.

For tickets to the Saturday, March 2nd screening of Los olvidados, click HERE.

A Portrait of Diego

Screening: Saturday, February 23, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre


This Saturday, we’re lucky enough to kick off our series of extraordinary Mexican films with Un retrato de Deigo (A Portrait of Diego: The Revolutionary Gaze) (2007), followed by discussion with filmmaker Gabriel Figueroa Flores and screenwriter Margarita Mansilla.

In the late 1940s, Mexican Golden Age cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa began a film with two renowned artists, painter Diego Rivera and photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. They shot several reels of Rivera, robust as ever, standing tall and eyes wide, sketching the sun-soaked marketplaces that surrounded him. He’s at once a kind of gallant performance piece and an immersed student of the world, humbled by every face and flower and contemplating every shape and shade of the bustling scene. It all has a depth of color that weakens the knees, as if–with this rare footage–we are at last able to fall right into one of Rivera’s paintings only to find the curves even more seductive, the pallet somehow richer, and the calla lilies sweeter than we could have imagined.

But the film was never finished. Far from it, in fact, until Figueroa’s son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores, and Diego Rivera’s grandson, Diego López Rivera, decided to finish the film their own way. Un retrato de Diego delves into the work of Rivera, Figueroa, and Álvarez Bravo to explore the vision of each artist and create a remarkable portrait of the moment in Mexican history that inspired all of them. An informative documentary equally accessible and revelatory to both experts and novices of Mexican art history, the film also frequently takes a leap toward the poetic to bring us face to face with the transformative magic of each artist’s gaze.

Reorienting us to Diego Rivera’s paintings and introducing us to the dazzling aesthetics of Gabriel Figueroa, Un retrato de Diego is not to be missed as we kick of Extraordinary Cinematic Visions and delve deeper into the Frida & Diego exhibition.


For tickets to the Saturday, February 23rd screening of Un retrato de Diego, click HERE.