High Museum of Art: Films


Looking Ahead to the Latin American Film Festival by Linda Dubler

Those Who Remain, screening on October 27 at 8 p.m. in the Rich Theatre as part of the upcoming 25th Latin American Film Festival.

by Julie Chautin

 The High’s Latin American Film Festival is twenty-five years old and many of us who love Latin American films have been coming for most, if not all of those years.  Every fall we look forward to greeting old friends with lots of abrazos (hugs) and catching up with news, just like at a family reunion.

 And family reunions, or the lack of them, gives poignancy to Those Who Remain, the beautifully filmed documentary about family members who stay in Mexico when their loved ones go north to work in the United States.

 Directors Carlos Hagerman and Juan Carlos Rulfo visited homes and villages all over Mexico and let wives, children, parents, and friends of the workers tell their own stories.

 One of the wives, Rosa, is overseeing work on the house she and her husband are building with the money he earns up north in the U.S.  But since he is away, she tells us, she makes the decisions for everything.  The camera quietly pans the house.  It’s new and modern, and very empty.  More empty houses appear on the screen.  They are ready to be lived in, but instead, stand alone and empty, waiting.

 Then village streets appear with no one on them.  Everyone has left to go north, says one remaining neighbor.

 Yet, in another town a man has come back for good, and he is happy to be home.  He uses the money he made to buy land and build an arena so his village can hold a rodeo, just like in the old days.

 And there are more reassuring sights.  A group of girls play a lively game of soccer. One talks about continuing her studies because that’s what her father wants her to do.  That’s why he’s working up north.

 When the Los Angeles Film Festival gave their Documentary Award to Hagerman and Rulfo in 2009, the jurors applauded the film’s “generosity of spirit and lyrical grace that illuminates a human landscape with fresh eyes, … documentaries can be both journalism and poetry.”

Those Who Remain

 There is poetry as the camera films a young girl twirling in her communion dress.  And an old man looks contentedly over his land.  This is a story that cries to be told, and laughs too.

 Director Carlos Hagerman received his BA in Mexico City and then won a Fulbright scholarship to the NYU film school that has graduated other directors whose films we’ve shown in Atlanta.  He worked several years as a director in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu´s film production company.

 Director Juan Carlos Rulfo is also the cinematographer.  He is the son of writer Juan Rulfo (1918-1986) often cited as one of the finest writers in 20th century Latin America.  He wrote the novel Pedro Páramo, a forerunner of magic realism, in which a man goes back to his father’s hometown and finds only ghosts.  One of the films Juan Carlos Rulfo has made is in homage to his father.  He visited his father’s hometown and interviewed its inhabitants.  They were not ghosts, they just had trouble remembering.  Thus, the title Del Olvido Al No Me Acuerdo (I Forgot, I Don’t Remember).

 In his later years the elder Rulfo became a photographer.   Both his visual eye and storytelling abilities may have easily nurtured the filmmaker and cinematographer his son became.

 But family ties don’t stop there.  Juan Carlos Rulfo is married to Valentina Leduc Navarro, the film editor for Those Who Remain.  She also worked on sound editing.  She is the daughter of the Mexican film producer Berta Navarro and film director Paul Leduc.

 In 1991 Berta Navarro visited Atlanta as a guest of the High along with her film, Cabeza de Vaca.  During her stay I took her out for lunch and she told me about her family.  Now her daughter, the next generation, has made one of the films we are showing.  Like I said, every festival seems like a family reunion.

The High will show the film with English subtitles. View the Spanish language trailer here:


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