The Mexican Embassy presents three contemporary films on the topic of Latin American migration, as part of their ongoing work with Mexican culture abroad

October 05th, 2022
Maria Asklund, News from Berlin

From September 19th until September 21st, the Culture Institute from Mexico to Germany (Kulturinstitut von Mexico nach Deutschland) hosted a small film festival centred on contemporary Mexican film. Three films were shown, discussing three different currents of modern-day cinema from the Latin American country, and all asking the same question; what does migration mean to Mexicans?

The Culture Institute from Mexico to Germany is the cultural sector of the Mexican Embassy in Berlin. In September, they hosted a three-day long cinema project, presenting three films by contemporary Mexican directors. The films were shown in original language but with English subtitles, enabling a wide audience to participate and learn more about Mexican culture.

Moreover, the theme of this film line was “Films from Migration”. All three films shown thus explore an aspect of being Mexican abroad. This topic is very fitting, as the Mexican Embassy deals with Mexicans in Germany. In this sense, these films might interest expats in particular, but also cinema-lovers with a desire to learn more about Mexican identity and cinema from Latin America, in general. In their choice of films, the Culture Institute made a selection encompassing different themes. Although all three films are contemporary, they are of a very different character.

Firstly, is the film Oaxacalifornia: The Return, a documentary exploring transnational identity. It follows three generations in a Mexican family living the United States. The director of the film is Trisha Ziff, a curator of photography and documentary film. Her work focuses mainly on the photographic image. Being a Guggenheim scholar, Ziff has exhibited her works at major museums around the world, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In particular, Ziff explores Mexican identity, Latin American history and heroic figures, as well as the Spanish Civil War. Moreover, she has also focused on more feminist topics, such as female Mexican existence in relation to sex-work and witchcraft.

Secondly, the film Gloria In Te Domine was screened by the Culture Institute. The film, directed by Ana Caché Torres, is based on real events and follows the life of Gloria, a lesbian woman who is forced to emigrate from Mexico due to prejudice and discrimination she is faced with because of her sexual identity. Ana Caché Torres herself is an LGBTQ filmmaker born in Mexico who also has a history of emigration. As a young adult, she moved to the United States in order to study cinema. Her story is symbolic to that of many Latin Americans coming to the United States, as she struggled heavily to make a living. Today, she is part of HBO Max’s Tomorrow’s filmmaker’s program. This is a testimony to her promising work, such as Gloria In Te Domine, which came out in 2019.

Thirdly, a horror film by Raúl Dorantes was shown; Camazotz. Set in modern-day Chicago, this thriller places a pre-Hispanic mythical creature into the modern American metropole. In this sense, Dorantes uses a mythical creature to tell an immigration story. Drawing on religion, we see how a modern-day filmmaker uses tradition, culture and other emotional topics in a new context. This exciting thriller was first developed for the theatre by playwriter Dorantes, and then came out as a film in 2020. Picking up on the subject of undocumented existence, this film reflects on a reality that is true for millions of Mexicans and other immigrants living in America.

Cultural diplomacy encompasses many things, but in particular dedicated work that supports culture and brings it to other parts of the world. The Culture Institute from Mexico to Germany does just this in presenting these three films, allowing Berlin to get a glimpse of what migration means for Mexicans. In fact, the motto of the film line is “no matter where we are, we create”, words that are hopeful in a time where many people are forced to leave their birth countries for many different reasons. May it be war, discrimination or the hope of creating a more prosperous life somewhere else, culture is an important aspect that can support, soothe and help humans in new situations.


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