"Beyond Macondo"

AFS series spotlights contemporary Colombian cinema

A cinematic outpouring in Colombia motivates a monthlong film series at the Marchesa titled “Beyond Macondo,” a nod to the fictional town where epic novel A Hundred Years of Solitude unfolds.

La Sirga

A new documentary profiling the book’s legendary author – Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez – jump-started the series last week, which culminates in a grand symposium, "Gabriel García Márquez: His Life and Legacy," to be hosted by UT Austin's Ransom Center and LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, Oct. 28-30.

Jason Borge, associate professor of Latin American film and literature, approached the Austin Film Society shortly after UT’s acquisition in November of the García Márquez archives, a monumental trove of original manuscripts, photo albums, correspondence, his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, and the Smith Corona typewriters that birthed his masterpieces.

An internationally revered author, García Márquez also studied experimental cinema in Rome, taught film in Mexico City, penned several screenplays and considerable film criticism, and helmed the Foundation for New Latin American Film.

Borge appraises contemporary Colombian cinema as “a rising star of the film world,” believing the narrative features selected for “Beyond Macondo” “embody the ‘spirit’ of García Márquez’s unique political and aesthetic sensibilities: his interest in popular music, art, and performance, his inventive ways of representing race, political conflict, and violence.”

Twice, moviegoers will hear directly from key members of this intrepid generation of filmmakers in Colombia, where annual film output has doubled from a decade ago. Director Ciro Guerra will attend the Oct. 29 screening of The Wind Journeys, his sophomore release. The film, a Cannes selection in 2009, follows a troubadour trekking cross-country to deliver a diabolically possessed accordion to its rightful owner. He encounters an unrooted teen insistent on accompanying him; their occasionally supernatural odyssey slips into a rumination of togetherness, with Colombia’s resplendent landscape its backdrop.

Los Hongos, released last year by filmmaker Oscar Ruiz Navia, who will be on hand for its Oct. 20 screening, chronicles graffiti writers in urban Cali – the Capital of Salsa Music, not the inane term non-Californians dub the Golden State – hyped by the Arab Spring uprisings and grasping for their own political voice amid the corrupting influences of Colombia’s second largest city. The next day, Navia will host a free screening of Crab Trap, his 2010 directorial debut, at UT’s Ransom Center.

Ruiz Navia co-produced another film in the series: La Sirga, showing this evening (Oct. 8), an arthouse drama that unhurriedly profiles a young woman fleeing the savagery of war and finding refuge, so she hopes, at an estranged uncle’s decrepit hostel along a remote Andean lake. Both Los Hongos and La Sirga are projects of Contravia Films, a Cali-based production outfit resolutely honed, in their words, on both “aesthetic pursuits and restorative narratives that profoundly confront diverse contemporary problematics.”

Mateo rounds out the month’s panel, the earnest story of a kid whose participation in a theatre program enables a glimpse at liberatory exit from the criminal underworld incrementally entangling him. Winner of both the Jury and Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature at Cine Las Americas last year, Mateo screens Oct. 15.

“Beyond Macondo: Gabriel García Márquez and Contemporary Colombian Cinema” screens films every Thursday through Oct. 29. For more info and tickets, visit www.austinfilm.org.

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