Cine Mexico Now is a six-part film series celebrating Spanish-language cinema from across Mexico. Aperture Cinema designed the project in collaboration with Cinema Lamont in Detroit, Michigan, where the series has been hosted for the past three years.
“We have a very large Hispanic population in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and it's primarily Mexican,” says Aperture Cinema's executive director and curator Lawren Desai. She sees the series as a chance to offer something unique and inviting to the Spanish language community.
Its journey to Winston-Salem began at the Sundance Film Festival. There Desai started talking with her counterpart Josh Gardner of Cinema Lamont. Then they started the process of selecting films.
The movies they chose represent the present and past of Mexican cinema. There are new films like Our Time (Nuestro Tiempo), about a family raising fighting bulls, and Leona, which is about a young muralist living in Mexico City.
There's also a documentary about immigration called I'm Leaving Now, about an undocumented immigrant who finds out his family has been squandering the money he's been sending back home.
Desai also wanted to be sure that women directors were represented with films such as The Chambermaid (La Camarista), directed by Lila Avilés. That film, about a chambermaid at a high-end hotel, “recognizes and celebrates the women who are the hard-working backbone of every society." I'm Leaving Now was also directed by a woman, Lindsey Cordero.
One of the films, The Phantom of the Monastery (El Fantasma del Convento), is a restoration. “Timing-wise, it's great,” says Desai of the film, which plays in October. “It's one of the first horror films from Mexico, and UCLA archives recently restored it.”
Cine Mexico Now was given a boost when it received a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. Desai says that gave her flexibility to program more than just films.
The first screening is Monday night, of a new movie called This Is Not Berlin. It was directed by Hari Sama, and is a semi-autobiographical film of youth in rebellion, set in the nightclubs of 1980s Mexico City, where he explored post-punk music, art, and his sexuality.
“We're bringing the director all the way from Mexico for our opening night film, which is really cool,” Desai says. “Having somebody come internationally for a film is an opportunity we don't get very much.”
The grant also allowed them to commission noted Mexican street artist Efe de Froy to design the poster. Froy's work is a kind of pop-culture mash-up of his 1980s bi-cultural upbringing.
In order to let the Hispanic community know about the series, Aperture Cinema took a very grassroots marketing approach. That included putting up posters in areas with a large Hispanic population, passing out fliers, and putting them up at tiendas and restaurants. They've also done outreach to organizations like the Hispanic League, as well as some area churches and universities.
“All of the materials we've shared have a Spanish translation, so we're really trying to make sure that the Mexican community, in particular, feel welcome and hopefully comes to see some of these films,” Desai says.
She ultimately hopes the series will connect the Spanish-speaking population with the local arts community, while bringing together foreign film lovers from across the city.
Cine Mexico Now runs September 23 through October 28, 2019.