Mitote: a documentary screening

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Nash Lecture Theatre

Strand

London, United Kingdom

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Mitote: a documentary exploring the conflict of protest & celebration in Mexico City

Mitote – a native Mexican word – translates variously as ‘a loud performance or dance; an unbridled celebration; a brawl; an uproar’. When Mexicans call for one another to ‘armar un mitote’, they signal a protest as much as they do a large-scale party or game. Eugenio Polgovsky’s third feature-length documentary, Mitote (2012), provides a unique experience of this pointedly Mexican clash of the frantically ludic with the deadly serious.

The documentary is set in 2010 and focusses on Zócalo, the enormous square at the heart of Mexico’s overpopulated capital. At this time, Mexico City was teeming with events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the nation’s Independence and the centenary of its Revolution. As well as the usual mass of tourists, vendors and peddlers, the square attracted hordes of football fans, drawn by the large ‘Televisa’ sponsored screens showing the South African World Cup. Zócalo is also a site of protest, however, and, in response to the government takeover of the national grid, workers from the Union of Energy Labour occupied the square. As jubilant fans jostle against marginalised hunger strikers, Mitote explores the juxtaposition of celebration and turmoil.

Forgoing the use of a narrator, Polgovsky lets the people do the talking. This intimate narrative reveals the paradoxical make-up of the culture of the square, as it oscillates between a festival and a wake; between modernity and what little was left of the original Mexico before the Spanish conquest. The film screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director, Eugenio Polgovsky.

EUGENIO POLGOVSKY is an independent visual artist and film director, editor, cinematographer, sound designer, producer, and founder of Tecolote Films. He has made various documentaries, including Tropic of Cancer(2004), The Inheritors (2008), Mitote (2012), and A Leap of Life (2014). He also makes video art works, notably Lightbyrinth, inspired by James C. Maxwell’s research on colour, light and film. Polgovsky’s films have been featured in New York’s MoMA (2006) and the festivals of Cannes (2005), Venice (2008), Berlin (2009), and Rome (2012). He has received over thirty awards worldwide, including the 2005 Joris Ivens prize in the Festival Cinema du Réel (Paris), and four Mexican Academy Awards.


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