• [The Daily] Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

    By David Hudson


    “During one of the meanest passages in American national politics within living memory,” writes Holland Carter in the New York Times, “we’re getting a huge, historically corrective, morale-raising cultural event, one that lasts four months and hits on many of the major social topics of the day: racism, sexism, aggressive nationalism.” Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA “is the latest of three successive multi-venue extravaganzas in and around this city, spaced several years apart, and bankrolled by the Getty Foundation. The first was an overview of art in Southern California from 1945 to 1980; the second was devoted to architecture and design. The current edition is more tightly focused: on the long, mutually formative cultural exchange between Latin America and the Los Angeles region, considered through exhibitions at some seventy institutions, large and small.”

    And more than a few of these institutions are presenting film screenings and series and launching new initiatives. One of the most ambitious of these is Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960, “a major research, preservation and exhibition project” undertaken by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “The project has already resulted in a landmark partnership with the Cinemateca de Cuba—a national film archive that has not previously collaborated with a U.S. cultural institution—to identify, restore and distribute pre-revolutionary Cuban cinema. In addition to the Cinemateca de Cuba, the Archive will also be working with the Cineteca Nacional of Mexico and the Fundación Cinemateca Argentina on this groundbreaking project to research and preserve pre-1960 Latin American films.”

    The film series of thirty-seven Spanish-language features is now underway through December 10 at the Billy Wilder Theater and the Downtown Independent. “Nothing if not eclectic, the series has films from Cuba, the first Puerto Rican sound feature ever (1934’s Romance Tropical), a group from Argentina and a handful of Spanish-language films made in the U.S. for the South American market,” writes Kenneth Turan in his overview for the Los Angeles Times.

    Putting this series together, “curators scoured contemporary listings in La Opinión and determined that virtually every film made in Mexico between 1930 and 1960 had played in Los Angeles,” notes Carman Tse in a solid backgrounder for LAist. “Recuerdos also includes several Spanish-language American productions that were made for domestic and international Spanish-speaking audiences. As Colin Gunckel, one of the curators of the program, explains, these Latin American films that showed on Main Street were ‘also a part of Hollywood history. . . . [Los Angeles] was a place where talent from Mexico and Latin America came to tour at the theaters and that same talent would record albums in Los Angeles and work in Hollywood.’ Gunckel's book, Mexico on Main Street, explores the interconnected relationship between Latin American cinemas, Hollywood, and the city of Los Angeles, and was used as the starting point for Recuerdos.”

    As Pat Pobric notes in the Art Newspaper, for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences program From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles, 1967-2017, “documentary filmmaker Lourdes Portillo is organizing a series of screenings, discussion panels and the publication of a new book detailing the work of filmmakers from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, among other countries.” The Academy’s also presenting online video interviews with Héctor Babenco (Pixote), Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También), screenwriter Paz Alicia Garciadiego (Deep Crimson), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Amores Perros), Lucrecia Martel (Zama), Gregory Nava (El Norte), producer Bertha Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth), María Novaro (Danzon), Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver), Arturo Ripstein (Time to Die), Nelson Pereira Dos Santos (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), and Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit).

    Los Angeles Filmforum has launched Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine Experimental en América Latina), “an unprecedented, five-month film series—the first in the U.S.—that surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today.” And there’s a bilingual catalogue as well.

    Back to Pobric: “Walt Disney’s forays into Latin America—and how artists have interpreted his legacy—are the focus of How to Read El Pato Pascual (9 September-16 December) at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and the Luckman Gallery at California State University.”

    Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films is an exhibition on view at the Pasadena Museum of California Art through January 7.

    Update, 10/3: Focusing on Recuerdos de un cine en espanol, Jordan Cronk, writing for the Hollywood Reporter, notes that “October highlights include a double feature of recently rescued and restored Cuban films, La Virgen de la Caridad and Casta de roble (Oct. 23); a pair of noirs from Argentina, El vampiro negro and Los tallos amargos (Oct. 28), the former a riff on Fritz Lang’s M and the latter a revered accomplishment in the history of cinematography; and, finally, a double bill of Ahi esta el detalle and Calabacitas tiernas (Oct. 30), two Mexican comedies starring national icons Mario ‘Cantinflas’ Moreno and German ‘Tin Tan’ Valdes, respectively. Of additional note is a selection of encore screenings at the Downtown Independent, former home of the Teatro Azteca, which once hosted many of these films during their original Los Angeles engagements.”

    Image above: David Silva and Xonia Benguria in Manolo Alonso’s Casta de roble (1954). Photo courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive. For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

1 comment

  • By Sean Ramsdell
    September 28, 2017
    09:10 PM

    How to Read Donald Duck reference on LA/LA (just in time for Pixar's Coco); also check out Walt & El Grupo, an excellent documentary about Disney's forays to Latin America-mainly the 1943 film Saludos Amigos.