US, 2009, 83 minutes, Color/BW, DVD, English/Spanish, Subtitled
Order No. W09931
Past and present collide in this extraordinarily well crafted documentary when filmmaker Natalia Almada (ALL WATER HAS A PERFECT MEMORY), winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s US Directing Award for documentary, brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother. These recordings feature Alicia Calles’ reminiscences about her own father—Natalia’s great-grandfather—General Plutarco Elías Calles, a revolutionary general who became president of Mexico in 1924. In his time, Calles was called “El Bolshevique” and “El Jefe Máximo”, or “the foremost chief”. Today, he remains one of Mexico’s most controversial figures, illustrating both the idealism and injustices of the country’s history.
Through Alicia’s voice, this visually stunning, stylistically innovative film moves between the conflicting memories of a daughter grappling with her remembrances of her father and his violent public legacy. It draws exceptional strength from meticulously edited audio, haunting photographs, archival newsreels, and old Hollywood films, combined with an original evocative soundtrack, sweeping footage of modern-day Mexico City, and interviews with today’s working poor. EL GENERAL is a poetic and cinematic exploration of historical judgment, and a complex, arresting portrait of a family and country living under the shadows of the past.
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AWARDS, FESTIVALS, & SCREENINGS
||Sundance Film Festival, Directing Award: US Documentary
||Cine Las Americas, Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature
- DOK Leipzig
- Los Angeles International Film Festival
- Seattle International Film Festival
- Montreal World Film Festival
- Guadalajara Film Festival
- Morelia International Film Festival
- Ambulante Film Festival
- Santiago Festival International de Cine (SANFIC)
- Encuentros del Otro Cine, Ecuador
- Festival International de Cine de Gijón
- Films from the South Film Festival
- San Diego Latino Film Festival
- Chicago Filmmakers
- Documenta Und Museum
- Wexner Center for the Arts
- Walker Art Center
- Fundacion de Cine Huesca
- Femcine Film Festival
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"Highly Recommended...The film should be required viewing for courses in Mexican and Latin American Studies and would also support curriculum in history, sociology, and political science."
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Educational Media Reviews Online
“Brilliant…brutally honest yet compassionate portrait of [Almada’s] family, her country, and her people, from the leaders who have promised the world to the peasants who have suffered for it.”
The Austin Chronicle
“For Almada, nation and family are intertwined, making El General a glorious collage of politics, history, terror and love."
Jane Bishop '51 Assoc. Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College
“A work of cinematic achievement that touches the viewer’s emotions as it provokes its understanding of the complex web of the personal and the social, reflecting how individual lives are placed at the junction of the past, the present and the future.”
Margarita De la Vega-Hurtado
Programmer, Curator & Presenter of Programs in Latin American & Latino Cinema
“An extraordinarily courageous way to delve into the origins from which you come.”
“A moving statement on memory and legacy.”
The Seattle Times
“Natalia Almada paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.”
“A hypnotic and deeply compassionate portrait of the Mexican people and the forces that have shaped their country.”
“The experimental structure, ethereal cinematography and beautiful original score create a vibrant portrait of fractured personal, historical and national memories.”
"Beautifully detailed and captivating."
Seattle Film Festival
“A beautiful lyrical evocation of Mexican history during the times of the revolution, as juxtaposed with events of more recent years.”
New York University
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