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El General

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PBS Premiere: July 20, 2010


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 Elías Calles, a revolutionary general who became Mexico’s president in 1924. In his time, Calles was called El Jefe Maximo (Foremost Chief). Today he is remembered as El Quema-Curas (Priest Burner) and as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until his exile in 1936. Airing during the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, El General moves between a daughter’s memories of her father as she grapples with history’s portrayal of him and the weight of that same man’s legacy on Mexico today. Winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Directing Award: Documentary. A co-production of ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. A Creative Capital project.

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TAGS: dictatorship, legacy, memory, mexico

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Film Information

El General (90 min.)

Premiere Date: July 20, 2010

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmaker: Natalia Almada Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Press Release | Fact Sheet | MoMA Screening


Natalia Almada
Natalia Almada

For seven years General Plutarco Elías Calles has loomed indestructible in the Mexican picture, like a Toltec pyramid — huge, harsh, mysterious. His name adds naturally to the list of dictatorial gladiators that the world watches with mixed feelings. . . . He has been called a Mexican Mussolini, an Indian von Hindenburg, a Latin American Lenin.”

— Anita Brenner,
The New York Times, 1937


Critical Acclaim

[A] remarkable documentary, provocative and impressionistic, based on questions rather than assertions ... 9 out of 10 stars”

— Cynthia Fuchs,

A tour de force of cinematic imagination bristling with beauty, contradiction and the epic scope of Mexico’s last 100 years of history.””

— Cara Mertes,
Sundance Documentary Institute

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A Co-Production of

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in association with

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