ATLANTA, Jan. 23, 2013 – In conjunction with the exhibition “Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting,” the High Museum of Art will present its spring film series, “Extraordinary Cinematic Visions: Mexico’s Past and Present Through the Eyes of Gabriel Figueroa and Carlos Reygadas.”
Figueroa was the leading cinematographer of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema (1930–1960). He won numerous cinematography awards and worked with such canonical directors as Emilio Fernández, John Ford, John Huston and Luis Buñuel. Reygadas is a contemporary art cinema director and a leader in the current Mexican cinema renaissance. He won the Best Director prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his film “Post Tenebras Lux.”
The series includes five films from Figueroa, three from Reygadas and one screening of 10 short films from Mexico’s top contemporary filmmakers. The series also features two special guests. On Feb. 23, Figueroa’s son, Gabriel Figueroa Flores, will introduce his father’s work and discuss his own film about the life and work of Diego Rivera. The High will also host Reygadas for a discussion after the screening of “Post Tenebras Lux” on April 27.
In addition to the films in the “Extraordinary Cinematic Visions” series, the High will screen “¡Qué viva México!” (1931) at noon and “Frida” (2002) at 2 p.m. in the Hill Auditorium every Saturday from Feb. 16 through May 11, during “Museum and a Movie Saturdays.” Admission to these two films is free to members and free with Museum admission.
“Our spring film series brings together the work of two extraordinary visionaries who have artfully re-imagined Mexico on the big screen,” said Virginia Shearer, Eleanor McDonald Storza director of education at the High Museum of Art. “While Figueroa used his camera to explore the classical romances and class dynamics of the Golden Age, Reygadas delves into Mexico’s contemporary cultural niches to uncover the troubled relationships and controversial stories within them. We’re excited to share these compelling films and shine a light on these extraordinary filmmakers.”
All films will be shown at 8 p.m. on Saturdays in the Richard H. Rich Theatre, located in the Memorial Arts Building of the Woodruff Arts Center, adjacent to the High Museum of Art at 1280 Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta. Below is the full schedule of films:
All films feature subtitles. Admission prices are $7 for the public and $6 for Museum members, students and seniors. Patron-level members enter free. Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office, calling 404-733-5000 or going online to high.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the night of the screening.
“Un retrato de Diego” (“A Portrait of Diego: The Revolutionary Gaze”) (2007)
Introduction and discussion with Gabriel Figueroa Flores
Feb. 23, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
Gabriel Figueroa began this documentary with master Mexican painter Diego Rivera in the late 1940s, but it wasn’t until recently that the footage saw the light of day, thanks to Figueroa’s son and Rivera’s grandson. Working from the original footage’s intimate portrayal of Rivera, Gabriel Figueroa Flores and Diego Rivera Lopez crafted a powerful new perspective that explores Rivera the man and the painter as well as the sociopolitical impact of his art in the last stages of the Mexican Revolution. On the same evening, Gabriel Figueroa Flores will also introduce and discuss his and his father’s film “Portrait of Diego.”
“Los olvidados” (“The Forgotten Ones,” or “The Young and the Damned”) (1950)
March 2, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
A treasure of the international cinema canon and winner of 11 of Mexico’s top film prizes—including Best Cinematography for Gabriel Figueroa and Best Director for Luis Buñuel—“Los olvidados” is a master work of both social realism and social surrealism. Figueroa’s aptitude for capturing shadow and visually unearthing Mexico City’s dark underbelly makes possible Buñuel’s unflinching look at this group of street urchins, their dreams and their sins. (35 mm)
“El ángel exterminador” (“The Exterminating Angel”) (1962)
March 9, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
A dinner party turns ugly for a group of high-society friends when they become inexplicably trapped in the parlor. Equally haunting and hilarious, this masterpiece from renowned director Luis Buñuel brims with his trademark absurdity and his biting criticism of bourgeoisie sensibility, while Gabriel Figueroa’s creative camera work and ingenious lighting techniques open up a single parlor to a world of dynamic space and shadow. (35 mm)
“María Candelaria” (1943)
March 16, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
In a careful choreography of light and darkness, Gabriel Figueroa captures both the beauty of the Mexican landscape and the depth of human expression to heighten every moment of this classic romantic tragedy from renowned director Emilio Fernández. Winner of Best Cinematography and the Grand Prize at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, “María Candelaria” stands as one of the most beloved films in all of Mexican film history and is certainly one of the most aesthetically astounding.
March 23, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
Set to the emotion, cruelty and high stakes of the Mexican Revolution, this action-packed romantic drama from director Emilio Fernández won eight of Mexico’s top film awards in 1947, including Best Film and Best Cinematography. In every scene, Gabriel Figueroa’s camera never fails to bring new light to its subject, be it a charging cavalry, a foreboding Mexican sky or the dynamic beauty of lead actress María Félix.
“Silent Light” (“Stellet Licht”) (2007)
April 6, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
Winner of numerous awards, including the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, “Silent Light” finds the sublime in the natural world and uses foreboding skies and sun-filled meadows to tell the story of a family from northern Mexico’s Mennonite community who are facing both marital and existential challenges. Arguably Carlos Reygadas’ most breathtaking film, “Silent Light” asks viewers to consider the possibility of transcendence as both an aesthetic and a spiritual phenomenon. (35 mm)
“Japón” (“Japan”) (2002)
April 13, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
A brooding painter leaves Mexico City for a remote canyon, where he plans to commit suicide. After taking up lodging with an elderly widow, the two traverse the strange space between tradition and modernity, violence and serenity, and companionship and sexuality in this stunning meditation on nature and human frailty. As Carlos Reygadas’s first major feature film, “Japón” marks not only his emergence onto the international art cinema stage but also a turning point in contemporary Mexican cinema at large. (35 mm)
April 20, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
On the occasion of the Mexican Revolution’s centennial, these 10 short films from Mexico’s top contemporary filmmakers—including Carlos Reygadas, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal—explore the meaning of “revolution” in Mexico today.
“Post Tenebras Lux” (2012)
Introduction and discussion with Carlos Reygadas
April 27, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre
Winning him the Best Director prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Carlos Reygadas’ dazzling new film is ostensibly about an urban family living in the Mexican countryside, but quickly veers away from any sort of strict narrative coherence toward a stunning state of abstraction. Emotionally charged and aesthetically astounding from start to finish, this film stands as the controversial crowning achievement in Mexican art cinema to date. Join us for an advanced screening and the Atlanta premiere of “Post Tenebras Lux.” For this special occasion, Carlos Reygadas will introduce and discuss his latest film. (35 mm)
Film Series Organization and Support:
The 35 mm projection facilities in the Richard H. Rich Theatre were provided by a gift from George Lefont.
About the Filmmakers:
Gabriel Figueroa (born 1907)
Born in Mexico City in 1907, Gabriel Figueroa studied painting and photography before finding his way to film. After an early project as one of several camera operators for a 1932 Howard Hawks film, Figueroa won a scholarship to study with the renowned American cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose revolutionary deep focus and lighting techniques would heavily influence Figueroa’s work. While he inherited Toland’s techniques and the dramatic chiaroscuro effects of German Expressionism, Figueroa also adapted these aesthetics to the Mexican scene. By combining mysterious, high-contrast interiors with awe-inspiring landscape compositions, Figueroa brought to the world a dramatically new and beautiful picture of rural Mexico. He shot 235 movies over 50 years and became not only the leading cinematographer of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema (1930–1960) but a world-renowned craftsman as well, winning numerous cinematography awards and working for such canonical directors as Emilio Fernández, John Ford, John Huston and Luis Buñuel.
Carlos Reygadas (born 1971)
Born in Mexico City in 1971, Carlos Reygadas became a lawyer in Mexico, specialized in armed conflict issues in London and worked for the United Nations before starting his film career. Inspired by art cinema giants such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Reygadas made four short films in Belgium between 1998 and 1999. He returned to Mexico in 2000 to shoot his first feature film, “Japón” (“Japan”), which garnered international attention for its startling content and magnificent aesthetics. The film’s raw depiction of sex and human frailty within a uniquely Mexican context grew into Reygadas’s fully fledged style with his second feature film, “Batalla en el cielo” (“Battle in Heaven”), which competed for the Palm d’Or and won several other international prizes. His third film “Silent Light” (“Stellet Licht”) pushed the familiar themes and aesthetics of his previous work onto new, breathtaking ground and won prestigious prizes across the globe, cementing Reygadas’s reputation as both a leader of contemporary Mexican cinema and a central auteur on the global art cinema stage. Reygadas has further cultivated the current renaissance of Mexican cinema by producing a number of notable films by other burgeoning Mexican directors, contributing a short film to the 2010 compilation “Revolución” and embarking on his most ambitious project yet, 2012’s “Post Tenebras Lux,” which earned him the Best Director prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Museum and a Movie Saturdays Screening Details:
In conjunction with “Frida & Diego” the High presents "Museum and a Movie" on Saturdays Feb. 16 to May 11 with two films.
"¡Qué viva México!" (1932/1979)
Saturdays, Feb. 16–May 11 at noon, Hill Auditorium (April 6: Education Center Lecture Room)
Filmed in 1930–1931 by famed Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, "¡Qué viva México!" is an archival treasure with striking aesthetics and an avant-garde sensibility that continue to stand the test of time. After meeting Diego Rivera in Moscow, Eisenstein left Russia to make a film about Mexico but was shut down after shooting approximately 30 to 50 hours of footage. He was never given the chance to edit the film himself, so his friend, filmmaker Grigori Alexandrov, edited the footage in 1979, creating the remarkable version we have today. "¡Qué viva México!" blurs the boundary between fiction and documentary as it moves from one vignette to the next, oscillating between narrative modes but maintaining an impassioned, romantic vision of the Mexican scene. Whether in the bullfighting ring, joining in Day of the Dead celebrations, or following two lovers' tormented saga, Eisenstein's camera never fails to evoke a distinctly Mexican cultural and visual landscape. Indeed, the description of Mexico offered at the heart of the film — "tender, lyrical, and cruel" — also epitomizes the life and work of the country's greatest cultural royalty: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Free with Museum admission and free to members. This film is presented in Russian with English subtitles.
Saturdays, Feb. 16–May 11 at 2 p.m., Hill Auditorium (April 6: Education Center Lecture Room)
"Frida" stars Salma Hayek in the title role and Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera. The film chronicles the "passion, politics, and painting" of the famous couple. Directed by Tony Award–winner Julie Taymor, "Frida" captures the vibrance, theatricality, and spectacle of the Mexican duo's life and art. More than a mere biographical record, "Frida" allows Kahlo's work to literally come alive as close-ups of her paintings imperceptibly shift into live-action sequences and Hayek's incredible likeness subtly morphs into one of Kahlo’s iconic self-portraits. The film also features an all-star cast, including Diego Luna as Frida's first boyfriend, Antonio Banderas as the painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, Edward Norton as Detroit mogul Nelson Rockefeller, Geoffrey Rush as Leon Trotsky, Ashley Judd as famed photographer and revolutionary Tina Modotti, and Mia Maestro as Cristina Kahlo. Free with Museum admission and free to members. This film is presented in English with Spanish subtitles.
About the High Museum of Art
Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the first major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information visit High.org.
About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center visit www.woodruffcenter.org.