Thursday, March 3, 2011

Revolución in Portland

This feature-length collection of shorts by some of the best and emerging talents of the contemporary Mexican film scene is unified in a couple of ways.  One of its directors, Amat Escalante (Los Bastardos), who was on-hand for a Q&A at the Saturday afternoon PIFF screening, divulged that each person invited to make a short was asked by the producers to reflect upon the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution via a piece set in modern times.  Beyond that slight imposition, there's also a notable thematic harmony brandished within several of the individual works that questions what lasting progress exists as a result of the revolution, as evidenced through the many nods to globalization and marketing in both public spaces and private lives.

For instance, Escalante's haunting piece, The Hanging Priest, concludes its action in a McDonald's restaurant.  While Rodrigo García's (Mother and Child) 7th and Alvarado places Pancho Villa and his men in downtown Los Angeles, surrounded by a dense modern environment packed with commercial signifiers.  And Mariana Chenillo's (Nora's Will) The Estate Store, inspired by an article she read in a local newspaper, exhibits the abuses visited upon common workers trapped in a type of wage slavery common in pre-revolutionary times.

Other shorts, like Carlos Reygadas' (Silent Light) This is My Kingdom and Gerardo Narango's (I'm Gonna Explode) R-100 go so far as to create revolution respectively via a juxtaposition of class and character situations based in desperation.  (Note: the clip below contains Reygadas' film in its entirety.)

All in all, like many short film collections based in shared concepts, Revolución is somewhat of a mixed bag.  Reygadas', Garcia's and Escalante's contributions come to mind as being the strongest of the ten films.  But even the weakest of the bunch have elements worth recommending.

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