El General, winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s US Directing Award for documentary, will screen at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Sunday, May 16, 2010, at 2 p.m. and on Friday, May 21 at 7 p.m. as part of the Creative Capital exhibition. Director Natalia Almada will introduce the film on both dates. To purchase tickets, visit MoMA’s website.
National Air Date
El General has its national broadcast premiere on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, on the 23rd season of the POV documentary series on PBS. (Check local listings.) American television’s longest-running independent documentary series, POV is the winner of a Special Emmy for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking and the International Documentary Association’s IDA Award for Best Continuing Series.
Past and present collide as award-winning filmmaker Natalia Almada (Al Otro Lado, POV 2006) brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother, daughter of Plutarco Elias Calles, a revolutionary general who became Mexico’s president in 1924. In his time, Calles was called El Jefe Maximo (the Foremost Chief). Today he is remembered as El Quema-Curas (the Priest Burner) and as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until his exile in 1936. Presented during the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, El General moves between a daughter’s memories as she grapples with history’s portrayal of her father and the weight of his legacy on Mexico today.
Using archival and original footage, Hollywood films and still photographs, as well as interviews with modern working-class street vendors, Almada searches to understand the scope of her own extraordinary connection to Mexico’s history and creates a deeply compassionate portrait of the Mexican people and the forces that have shaped their country. A co-production of ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting.
Watch the trailer and learn more the POV website.
“My grandmother wanted to write her father’s biography, but all that remains of that intention are the recordings that were handed to me, presumably so that I might finish what she left incomplete,” says Almada. “The film is a way to question: How do we reconcile the contradictions between our personal family memories and our country’s collective memory? How do I reconcile my reality with my family history? How do I, a Mexican, understand Mexico today through a historical lens? El General considers the price we pay for our memories and our history, the wounds we close and the ones we ignore.”
Natalia Almada’s directing credits include the experimental short “All Water Has a Perfect Memory” and Al Otro Lado (POV 2006), her award-winning debut feature documentary about immigration, drug trafficking and corrido music. Her work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival, MoMA, The Guggenheim Museum and The Whitney Biennial, as well as at international film festivals, universities, conferences and as television broadcasts including PBS, ARTE and VPRO. Almada is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow. She graduated with a master’s in fine arts degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and shares her time between Mexico City and Brooklyn, N.Y.
Director: Natalia Almada
Co-producers: Daniela Alatorre, Natalia Almada
Editor: Natalia Almada
Cinematographer: Chuy Chavez
Original Music: John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Shazahd Ismaili
POV Series Credits
Executive Producer: Simon Kilmurry
Executive Vice President: Cynthia Lopez
El General is a co-production of Altamura Films and ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and American Documentary | POV. Additional support provided by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, the Creative Capital Foundation, NYSCA, the Media Arts Fellowships: A Program of Tribeca Film Institute, the Jerome Foundation, Beca Gucci-Ambulante, NALIP, the MacDowell Colony and Women Make Movies.
Running Time: 83:00
U.S. Directing Award: Documentary, Sundance Film Festival, 2009
Best Documentary Feature, Cine Las Americas, Austin, Texas, 2009
Coral Award, Havana International Film Festival, 2009
Special Mention, SANFIC, Santiago, Chile, 2009
(For a complete list of awards and festivals, visit www.altamurafilms.com/elgeneral.html.)