CINEMATHEQUE: Latin American “Third Cinema”

The two films screened in curator Margarita de la Vega-Hurtado’s CINEMATHEQUE: Latin American “Third Cinema” program at Rice University’s Media Center are classic examples of agitprop filmmaking at its best and/or most blatant. Shot between 1966 and 1972, Chircales (Brickmakers), by noted Colombian filmmaker Marta Rodriguez, is a not-too-subtle indictment of socioeconomic injustice as we bear witness — and that’s what her camera etches so indelibly — to the grueling poverty and degrading conditions of life for the Castañeda family, straining to get by in the shantytown farms south of Bogotá where they make bricks. The documentary is harsh, fierce, grubby and ineffably sad as the entire family struggles daily to survive, caught in a web of virtual slavery. (The Israelites had it easier in Egypt.)

The short Now (1965), by Santiago Alvarez, Cuba’s preeminent documentarian, is exactly what you’d expect from this ‘60s filmmaker who glorified Castro. His trenchant view of U.S. race relations — he ironically juxtaposes archival pix and footage of civil rights marches against a background score of Lena Horne singing protest lyrics to the tune of “Hava Nagila” — packs an expected wallop since it’s made entirely out of exclamation points. 7 p.m. 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-3138 or visit Free.

Thu., Feb. 19, 7 p.m., 2009


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