SHORT/EXPERIMENTAL FILMS

 

SHORT/EXPERIMENTAL FILMS (films less than 45 minutes)

Keywords:
art, assimilation, California, Chicana cultural nationalism, Chicana feminism, Chicana historiography, Chicana/o identity, city planning,colonialism, consumerism, domestic workers, economic dependency, experimental film/video, family, gender/gender relations, gentrification, globalization, higher education, historiography, identity, indigeneity, Latinas, Latina/o stereotypes, Latina/o youth, Los Angeles, machismo, Mexican-Americans, nativism, New York, Nicaragua, North Carolina, parody/satire, Puerto Ricans, religion, sports, transnationalism, U.S.-Mexico (San Diego-Tijuana border).        

 

Chávez Ravine. Dir. Jordan Mechner. Bullfrog Films, 2004.
Call number: 65-V9392 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA
Duration: 24 mins.
Summary: Chávez Ravine documents the how three poor Mexican-American communities within Chávez Ravine (La Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop) were displaced by the Los Angeles municipal government for the ostensible purpose of creating an ambitious housing project in the 1950s.  Former residents of Chávez Ravine were to be given priority for units in the housing project. However, the project was abandoned when opposition claimed the housing project signaled an encroachment of communism and socialism in Los Angeles.  Archival footage, film stills, and interviews with former residents of Chávez Ravine and the designers of the housing project compose the film.   

Keywords: gentrification, Los Angeles, Mexican-Americans, city planning.  

 

Chicana. Dir. Sylvia Morales. Women Make Movies, 1979. 
Call number: ISA Film Collection
Filming locations: N/A
Duration: 23 mins.
Summary: Considered the feminist counterpart to Luis Valdez’s I Am Joaquin, Chicana traces a historical trajectory of Chicana women/heroines starting from the Aztecs during the conquest and ending with Chicana activists circa 1970s.  Morales uses stills, photographs, music, and poetry in her film to convey her message of Chicana cultural nationalism.       

Keywords: Chicana feminism, Chicana cultural nationalism, Chicana historiography.  

 

Columbus on Trial. Dir. Lourdes Portillo.
Call number: 65-V8035 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming location: N/A
Duration: 18 mins.
Summary: Made in collaboration with the comedy trio Culture Clash, this experimental video is intended as political satire on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the “New World.”  Indicative of the title, Columbus is put to trial for crimes committed against the indigenous of Americas.  

Keywords: colonialism, experimental video, parody/satire.  

 

Cruceros y caminos. Dir. Shane Nye. 1996.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming location: Clinton, NC.
Duration: 17 mins.
Summary: Cruceros y caminos provides a window into the evolving Latina/o community in Clinton, NC.  Through voiceovers and interviews, one learns of the circumstances that draw Latin American immigrants to Clinton and what convinces them to settle there in greater numbers.  Local churches serve as important community centers and the film shows various community functions such as a quinceañera, festivals, and religious services.

Keywords: North Carolina, assimilation, religion.    

 

Después del Terremoto (After the Earthquake). Dir. Lourdes Portillo and Nina Serrano. Xochitl, 1979.
Call number: 65-V8034 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 24 mins.
Summary: Set in San Francisco, this short, black-and-white fictional film broaches a wide-range of issues related to gender-identity through the life of Irene, a young Nicaraguan immigrant, and other Latina characters.  Irene has fled the Somoza dictatorship and achieves a level of financial independence working as a domestic laborer.  The impending arrival of her boyfriend, who has been held captive in Nicaragua, provokes tensions between the couple.  Irene’s independence threatens his masculinity, and his presence infringes upon her budding sense of self-actualization that is at times problematically tied to a television set.   
 
Keywords: Nicaragua, gender identity, consumerism, domestic workers.

 

The Devil Never Sleeps. Dir. Lourdes Portillo. Latin American Video Archive, 1994.
Call number: 65-V8036 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Chihuahua, Mexico.
Duration: 87 mins.
Summary: Lourdes Portillo returns to her birthplace, Chihuahua, Mexico, to investigate the rumors surrounding her Uncle Oscar’s death and, in doing so, to mediate on the nature of memory and family dynamics.  Documentary interviews, autobiographical testimonies, police reports, newspaper clippings, stylized film shots, photographs, television footage, and home movies allow for an examination of different media as reliable ‘evidence’ in Portillo’s personal search for answers.  Tapping into film noir (specifically Welles’ Touch of Evil) and telenovela tropes, Portillo’s sleuthing broaches more questions beckoning the viewers to participate in the sinuous narrative. 

Keywords: transnationalism, satire/parody, identity, experimental film.  

 

Día sin mexicanos (Day without a Mexican). Dir. Sergio Arau. Xenon Pcitures, 2004.
Call number: 65-DVD2037 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: San Diego, CA.
Duration: 95 mins./**28 mins.**
Summary: Based on the 1998 mockumentary by Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi, this film contemplates the ramifications if all Latinas/os had disappeared from California.  The film possesses a science-fiction veneer and satirical overtones, while different subplots unfold.  The economic sector and families alike deteriorate as most Californians (the film does not stray from broaching nativism) sorely miss Latinas/os, including U.S. border guards.  While the feature length film weighs in on a number of issues such as Latina/o stereotypes, the original short film does much of the same and appears on the DVD as an extra.  Instructors may consider screening the short in lieu of the feature length film since the short lasts 28 minutes.        

Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes, California, US-Mexico (San Diego-Tijuana border), economic dependency, nativism.

 

The Great Mojado Invasion. Dir. Gustavo Vasquez. 
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: N/A.
Duration: 26 mins.
Summary: A pseudo-documentary/ “mockumentary”/Chicana/o sci-fi classic, performance artist and writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña as the Border Brujo and Webback turns history on its head and contemplates the ramifications of U.S. of Aztlán had Mexico triumphed over the U.S. during the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848.  Gómez-Peña combines wit, original footage, and clips from campy Hollywood and Mexican films to forge a complex commentary about identity, Latina/o stereotypes, academia, and even performance art, among other topics.  The film is at once satirical, comical, and daunting.

Keywords: experimental film, Latina/o stereotypes, historiography.       

 

I am Joaquin. Dir. Luis Valdez. 1969.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming location: N/A.
Duration: 20 mins.
Summary: Based on Corky Gonzalez’s epic poem of the same name, I am Joaquin is foundational to Chicana/o cinema and an expression of Chicana/o nationalism.  The short film represents a transition in the production of Luis Valdez from El Teatro Campesino to another medium.  The film is composed of a voice over reciting verses from Gonzalez’s poem and film stills to create a Chicana/o lineage traced back to the Aztecs to what was then the present day (1969).  I am Joaquin has been criticized for its machismo and omission of Chicana identities; the short film Chicana by Sylvia Morales (see above) was intended as a corrective.

Keywords: Chicana/o identity, historiography, machismo.

 

The Latino Family. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1993.
Call Number: 65-V7689 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: San Antonio, TX
Duration: 28 mins.            
Summary: Three vignettes compose the film, focusing on Irene Flores, the Colorado Sisters, and a tradition in San Antonio the filmmakers title “Sunday in the Park.”  Irene Flores describes family traditions that forced her to marry at age 16.  After divorcing her first and eventually her second husband, she graduates from college.  The Colorado Sisters are performance artists who articulate in interviews and performances their recovery of their indigenous identities. 
“Sunday in the Park” broaches the importance of family in the Latina/o community and treats gatherings in the park as an emblem representing the importance of family. 

Keywords: Latinas, family, indigeneity, gender relations. 

 

Latinos Speak Out: Sexual Assault in the Latino Community.
Call number: 65-V9872 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Philadelphia, PA
Duration: 20 mins.
Summary: Funded by several anti-rape coalitions, Latinos Speak Out tackles rape and domestic abuse committed by men against women in Latina/o communities in Philadelphia. One learns through interviews with victims, directors of rape crisis centers, religious leaders, and random people the causes and repercussions of domestic violence specifically in families and communities.  The wide spectrum of viewpoints, including the most absurd, makes for an engaging, if not saddening, discussion.  

Keywords: domestic violence, machismo, marianismo, Philadelphia.

 

La vida no es fácil. Dir. Maurice M. Martinez., 2006.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: Wilmington, NC. 
Duration: 22 mins.
Summary: Maurice Martinez, a professor at the UNC-Wilmington, broaches an array of issues related to Latinas/os in North Carolina and focuses on obstacles facing young undocumented Latinas/os aspiring to a college education.  Martinez interviews Latina/o youths, leaders of non-profit, university faculty and trustees, and legislators while touching on misconceptions of Latinas/os and the composition of the Latina/o workforce in North Carolina.  The documentary also contains a prolonged discussion of House Bill 1183, a bipartisan proposal originally submitted in 2005 that would have allowed undocumented high school graduates who have spent at least 4 years in North Carolina to qualify for in-state tuition.  The bill’s defeat and the negative responses it generated from the public may prove particularly useful in discussions about undocumented Latina/o youth and education.          

Keywords: Latina/o youth, higher education, North Carolina.

 

The Life and Poetry of Julia de Burgos. Dir. José Garcia Torres. Sandino Films, 1979.
Call number:  Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Puerto Rico; New York, NY.
Duration: 28 mins.
Summary: This short film effectively pays homage to Puerto Rican poet, Julia de Burgos (1914-1953).  Reenactments of various scenes from her life and the dramatization of some of Burgos’s poems touch on key events that shaped Burgos’s life including her university studies and teaching in a rural Puerto Rican town.  In addition, Burgos was involved with the numerous political causes, including the Puerto Rican independence movement, until she died prematurely in New York City.  In Spanish with English subtitles.

Keywords: colonialism, Puerto Ricans.

 

Mi otro yo … My Other Self. Dir. Amy and Philip Brookman, 1988
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: California (San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles).
Duration: 26 mins.
Summary: Through interviews this documentary broaches various ways in which artists conceive a Chicana/o identity.  Often times placed in a lineage that starts with the Aztecs, the Chicana/o artists in this film tackle issues of marginalization and assimilation within a dominant U.S. culture, and how their work may operate as political activism.  The film is narrated by Guillermo Gomez-Peña and includes interviews with artists, filmmakers, and authors including Amalia Mesa-Bains, Luis Valdez, Judy Baca, and Daniel Valdez. 

Keywords: art, California, Chicana/o identity.

 

No Grapes. United Farm Workers, 1992. 
Call number:  (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: California.
Duration: 14 mins.
Summary: While acknowledging past activism by the United Farm Workers (UFW), No Grapes recounts the UFW’s grape boycott in 1992.  High levels of cancer rates among farm workers, birth defects among farm workers’ children, and pollution moved the UFW and its allies to action.  The filmmakers rely on interviews with farm workers, activists (Cesar Chavez), celebrities (Martin Sheen and Edward James Olmos, among others), and government officials.   

Keywords: California, domestic workers, consumerism.

 

Oaxacan Hoops. Dir. Olga R. Rodriguez, 2003. 
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA; Oaxaca, Mexico. 
Duration: 20 mins.
Summary: As Oaxcan Hoops testifies, basketball is wildly popular among Zapotecs in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.  Communities build gyms and teams composed of men and women compete on a regular basis in tournaments.  Lending a transnational dimension to the film, Zapotecs carry with them their passion for basketball to Los Angeles as they migrate in greater numbers to the United States.  Basketball in the context of Los Angeles takes on a greater importance for some Zapotecs and the sport helps them to maintain their communities in the U.S. and their ties to the communities in Mexico.    

Keywords: sports, transnationalism. California.

 

Revelaciones / Revelations: Hispanic Art of Evanescence. Dir. Edin Velez. 1994.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming locations: Ithaca, NY.
Duration: 28 mins.
Summary: The film documents the work of 8 Latina/o artists who were commissioned to do work for a exhibition at Cornell University in 1993 entitled “Revelaciones / Revelations: Hispanic Art of Evanescence.”  The exhibition was curated by Chon Noriega and José Piedra and lasted only 6 weeks.  Interviews with the artists provide a window into their pieces, and footage and interviews with students at Cornell show how the art, especially a piece by Daniel J. Martinez, has the capacity to provoke reactions and ultimately change an environment.  The 8 artists are: Gronk, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Ronald Gonzalez, María Brito, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Rimer Cardillo, and Daniel J. Martinez.

Keywords: Latina/o identity, art.

 

Roots of Migration. Dir. Mikel Barton. Witness for Peace, 2009. 
Call number: ISA Film Library (DVD)
Duration: 20 mins.
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico
Summary: Witness for Peace is a U.S.-based activist organization that grew out of opposition to the Reagan Administration’s policies in Nicaragua during the 1980s.  In 2009, a group of 20 Witness for Peace members traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to gain a better understanding for the reasons for migration to the United States, and Roots of Migration documents that trip.  Through interviews with residents, the film provides personalized insights into economic forces and arrangements, including NAFTA, that have caused many Mexicans, among others, to reluctantly leave their countries to seek employment in the U.S.

Keywords: globalization.

 

Sabado Morning. Dir. Ramon Richard. Sabado Films, Inc., 2003
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Brooklyn, New York, New York.
Duration: 6 mins.
Summary:  Inspired by a play by Piri Thomas, Sabado Morning is part short film and part dramatized slam poem.  The film is framed as a recital of a poem on a radio program entitled “Piri’s Poetry Night,” hosted by Piri Thomas.  Images visualize the poem and both work to relate the story of Eddie, a police officer of Puerto Rican descent, who is mistakenly shot by a fellow officer on account of Eddie’s race.  The poem/film is a powerful commentary on consumerism, lure of the streets, and racism.   

Keywords: consumerism, New York City, Puerto Ricans.

 

Viva la causa. Dir. Alonso F. Mayo and Bill Brummel. Teaching Tolerance, 2008.
Call number: 65-DVD7313 (Media Resources Center)
Filming locations: California and includes archive footage from various metropolitan cities such as Cleveland, New York, and St. Louis.
Duration: 48 mins.
Summary: Through reenactments and documentary footage, Viva la causa relates the beginnings of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the early 1960s and its efforts to improve labor conditions for farm workers, the overwhelming majority who were Mexican and Mexican-Americans at the time.  While César Chávez and Dolores Huerta might constitute protagonists in the narrative, the film highlights the collective efforts against industrial farm companies, particularly grape growers.  The film also historically contextualizes the UFW’s struggles within a larger U.S. context through the presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy and collaboration between the UFW and a Filipino farm workers’ union.        

Keywords: Chicana/o identity, economic dependency.

 

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