Film Archive

International Programme 2018
Atmahaú Pakmát Cameron Quevedo

A poetic and political film about border demarcations and their consequences, the struggle for survival of adobe brick makers in the Mexican-US border region and the magic of a river.

Atmahaú Pakmát

Documentary Film
Mexico,
USA
2017
24 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Cameron Quevedo
Jesús Gerdel
Jim Hickcox
Cameron Quevedo
Will Harrell
Everybody’s talking about the planned wall between the US and Mexico, but what’s often overlooked is that this borderline is in itself a construct. In the mid-19th century, Mexico had to accept a massive loss of territory to its powerful northern neighbour. The demarcation line has followed the Rio Grande ever since. A poetic and political film about border demarcations and their consequences, the struggle for survival of adobe brick makers in the Mexican-US border region and the magic of a river.

Annina Wettstein

Isolated

Documentary Film
Colombia,
Ecuador,
Mexico
2015
73 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marcela Lizcano, Juan Pablo Solano, Simon Beltrán Echeverri, Sarahi Echeverría
Marcela Lizcano
Daniel Velasco
Marcela Lizcano, Cecilia Madorno
Carla Valencia, Étienne Boussac
Marcela Lizcano
Daniel "el gato" Najar Garcés
The tiny island of Santa Cruz is part of the San Bernardo archipelago off the Colombian Caribbean coast, situated within sight of its big sister Múcura. It’s not really an island, more of a coral reef that fishermen used for storage in the past. Then they brought their families here from the mosquito plagued islands, built huts, and today Santa Cruz is a city: 1,200 square metres, 97 houses, 500 inhabitants. Crowded with people and goods this unlikely place serves as a metaphor for our planet for the Colombian director Marcela Lizcano. El Cabo, an old fisherman and lobster diver, acts as a guide who knows how to describe the changes: fish is running low, the lobsters are disappearing and the sea has already swallowed six of the original 16 islands around Santa Cruz. His reflections lead to a residents’ meeting which demonstrates on a small scale how obstinacy, corruption and greed destroy our world. And then there are the children who roam everywhere and for whom the sea is a playground. Their future is not in Santa Cruz. They are drawn to the mainland, where the fun is. They will miss the sea when they wake up there in the mornings. With “Isolated” the director has created the very affectionate portrait of a community whose crisis mirrors all our problems. The only thing is – where can we go?

Matthias Heeder

Mutatio

Animated Film
Mexico
2011
8 minutes
subtitles: 
_without dialogue / subtitles

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Rita Basulto, Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía
León Fernández
Luis Palacios
Manuel Aldana
León Fernández
A strange humanoid wakes up abandoned on a great rock in the middle of the ocean. Without shelter or food, he must confront the very purpose of his life and the great mystery that sustains his species.
International Programme 2016
Plaza de la Soledad Maya Goded

The prostitutes of La Merced in Mexico City: between 50 and 80, often abused and beaten, courageous, strong and completely devoid of illusions. Highly intimate confessions brimming with burlesque humour.

Plaza de la Soledad

Documentary Film
Mexico
2016
84 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Martha Sosa, Eamon O’Farrill, Monica Lozano
Maya Goded
Leonardo Heiblum, Jacobo Lieberman
Maya Goded
Valentina Leduc
Lena Esquenazi, Miguel Hernández
First of all, “Plaza de la Soledad” opens with an amazing, made-for-cinema scene that works in a documentary only if filmmaking is considered a collaboration between the people in front of and behind the camera. In this case it’s a project realised by photographer and filmmaker Maya Goded and the prostitutes of La Merced in Mexico City, whose trust Goded won over years of work on a series of photos about the neighbourhood.

These women, who have sold themselves to men ever since they were young and live off them even today, are between 50 and 80 years old. That means a lot of bottled-up stuff, and cinema is their medium of choice to give vent to their stories. They are brave and strong, women who were abused or raped as young girls, had to raise their kids without husbands and describe their biographies with no illusions – no self pity, focused only on survival. At the same time there’s an energy vibrating in this film, whose narrative scope ranges from burlesque everyday humour via sexual practices with customers to the most intimate confessions that reveal glimpses of their longing for a little security and love. There’s no doubt that the renowned Magnum photographer Maya Goded is also one of the great voices of contemporary Mexican cinema.

Matthias Heeder

Potentiae

Documentary Film
Mexico
2016
98 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Alejandra Liceaga
Javier Toscano
Daniel Hidalgo Valdés
Ricardo Garfias
Omar Guzmán, Paulina del Paso
Javier Toscano
Luis Mercio, Carlos Aguilar Zafra
A literal change of format. A car door is pushed open and the image follows. The narrow frame widens, the camera starts to fly, floating slowly high above the roofs of Mexico City. Then it starts to descend, sinks down into a narrow alley, finds its protagonist and rises again. It’s the shot that changes everything, that translates everything seen so far into a new order of seeing, a new form of perception.

So the question is: what exactly is director Javier Toscano documenting in his film “Potentiae”? Is it the routines of moving without legs – on steps, in the water, on the cinder track? The technique of brushing one’s teeth without arms? The skilled handling of the white stick? For a long time we watch a closely observing film about the various daily practices and techniques of handicapped people: documents of different concepts of self-determined life on the outskirts of a megacity. But is that all? How does this car door that opened the image affect our own vision? Is it shifted or freed from limitations? Is our perception expanded or even exploded? Can we still trust our eyes?

Lukas Stern
International Programme 2013
The Convict Patient Alejandro Solar Luna

After an assassination attempt on the life of the Mexican president a man is locked up as a psychiatric case for the next 23 years. A record of the extinction of a human being.

The Convict Patient

Documentary Film
Mexico
2013
83 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Alejandro Solar Luna, Rodrigo Herrnaz, Issa Guerra, Armando Casas
Alejandro Solar Luna
Luis Leñero Elu
Ignacio Miranda
Ernesto Contreras, Alejandro Solar Luna
Alejandro Solar Luna
One of those stories that it would be a reckless understatement to call incredible: during a protest rally in Mexico City on 2 October, 1968, almost 300 people are killed as President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz deploys the armed forces and special units of the presidential guard to re-establish order in the country. Carlos Castañeda de la Fuente witnesses the events as a bystander. But that day was to determine the rest of his life: in a helpless act of outrage one and a half years later, the professed Christian attempts to assassinate Ordaz, but is arrested carrying a weapon before it happens and picked out to be groomed by the secret police as the fanatic mastermind of an attempted coup. When this fails, mainly because of the accused man’s naiveté, he is declared insane and locked away. He is believed to have disappeared. For years he is subjected to massive physical and mental abuse, later he is more or less forgotten. It is not before 1993, after 23 years as a psychiatric patient, that he is helplessly shoved off into “freedom” to eke out a miserable existence as a deranged homeless man in Mexico City. Director Alejandro Solar Luna spent a long time reconstructing the depths of this case: the extinction of a human being over four decades.

Ralph Eue
International Programme 2017
The Mermaid Kingdom Luis Rincón

Mysterious incidents occur in a Nicaraguan fishing village: divers re-emerge paralysed from the waters. A strong belief in mermaids correlates with the tragedies.

The Mermaid Kingdom

Documentary Film
Mexico
2017
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Rigoberto Perezcano, Bruno Cárcamo
Luis Rincón
Juan Pablo Ramírez Ibañez
Lucrecia Gutiérrez Maupomé
Luis Rincón
Bernat Fortiana
The boundary between the land and the sea is magic. When we see a few cows walking along the coast right at the start, it’s a picture of unity. Just like the bodies of mermaids who are said to look like fish from the belly down. There are many legends around these creatures. For example that people one of them falls in love with begin to stink of fish. Only special herbs can remove the smell, which makes locating the person impossible. Mermaids can cause pregnancies, too. And have huge banquets at the bottom of the sea. But the inhabitants of a Nicaraguan fishing village seem to have lost the local aquatic creatures’ favour: recently, incidents were observed where men returned paralysed from dives. Luis Rincón shows life on this boundary, the work above and below the water line. And he focuses on one paralysed man who almost never appears without his sunglasses. Once Rincón films him sitting at the window, so that the light playing on his skin looks like fish scales.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award
International Programme 2017
The Other Side of the Wall Pau Ortiz

The touching portrait of two adolescents in Mexico. At the height of puberty they are forced to replace their parents for their younger siblings while their mother is in prison.

The Other Side of the Wall

Documentary Film
Mexico,
Spain
2017
68 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

María Nova López, Emiliano Altuna, Carlos Rossini, Tatiana García
Pau Ortiz
Daniel Hidalgo
María Nova López
Frank Gutiérrez, Pau Ortiz
Carlo Massarelli
Sometimes 13-year-old Rocío suddenly becomes an adult woman worried about the future. This is mostly due to the fact that, together with her 18-year-old brother Alejandro, she has to take care of two younger siblings while their mother is in prison. It’s been more than two years that the teenagers have been holding the family together. But the extreme situation is wearing them out and they quarrel more and more frequently. The battles they fight are both copies of classic arguments between couples (“I’m the only one who tidies the house here!”) and expressions of their inner conflicts. Both want to be capable of handling difficult situations and “carry their own weight”. But especially pubescent Rocío feels, that “my relationship with myself”, as she puts it, has been less than perfect for a while.

This detailed filmic observation shows a family microcosm marked by overextension, but also by great warmth. Both Rocío and Ale use the conversations on camera as moments of reflection – both analysing their own situation with breathtaking precision and realism. This film is also an emphatic declaration of love by director Paul Ortiz to his young protagonists that will stay with the viewer for a long time.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann


Nominated for Young Eyes Film Award
International Programme 2016
The World in a Corner Mariano Rentería Garnica

They spend every day by, in or on the ocean – the inhabitants of “Sacred Hill”, a rocky peninsula in the deep south of Mexico.

The World in a Corner

Documentary Film
Mexico
2016
21 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Aurora Molina Pineda, Jorge Díez Maza
Mariano Rentería Garnica
Jorge Alba
Mariano Rentería Garnica
Mariano Rentería Garnica
Mariano Rentería Garnica
Raúl Atondo
They spend every day by, in or on the ocean – the inhabitants of “Sacred Hill”, a rocky peninsula in the deep south of Mexico. But as close as they may be to the sea, it is still alien to them. A young man and a girl talk about this place: about the fact that fishing has driven away many of the sea dwelling creatures and how the sea takes revenge now. The few animals left are reserved for the tourists to look at. In haunting images the film portrays an almost dreamlike nightmare.

Kim Busch