Showing posts from August, 2016

Cine Clásico: TIEMPO DE MORIR in Los Angeles

By William Alexander Yankes and Abel Salas Released widely in 1966 to critical acclaim throughout Mexico, Tiempo de morir (Time to Die) marked an auspicious directorial debut for a then 22-year-old Arturo Ripstein. The film, shot in black and white, was co-written by Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, two writers who would eventually achieve near mythical status as internationally acknowledged literary giants. Produced and distributed by Alameda Films—the company founded in 1948 by Alfredo Ripstein, the novice director’s father—it cemented the reputation of the Ripstein dynasty and established its founder and his sons as the leading proponents of a national film industry comparable only to Hollywood in terms of artistry and commercial viability. On August 5th, several hundred serious Latin American film and literature aficionados gathered for a rare screening of Tiempo de Morir in commemoration of the film’s 50th anniversary. Presented by the Boyle Heights-based Libros

Assemblyman Santiago: From Moorpark to Majority Whip

Assemblymember Miguel Juarez (r,)  is greeted by fellow Sacramento legislator Jimmy Gómez (l.). By Abel M. Salas California Assemblymember Miguel Santiago certainly looks the part. Except for the subversive socks. Otherwise, it’s all there. The subtly patterned gray suit, the crisp white shirt unburdened by the tie he would be wearing for a more important meeting and the modest cuff links that seem more a personal flourish than a nod to GQ style all broadcast Sacramento insider daywear. He’s taken a short break for an interview at a newish but non-descript and obviously independent eatery and coffee house on the ground floor of a renovated downtown LA building not far from his local headquarters as the incumbent Assembly District 53 representative, a state-wide office to which he was elected in 2014. But the multi-colored horizontally-striped socks are hard to ignore. The unusual stockings, however, go unmentioned as the 42-year-old lawmaker discusses the trajectory that ha

Lila Downs Shares Stage with Folk Ballet

by Abel Salas Lila Downs, the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter with roots in Oaxaca and the U.S., has often been described as a “Mexican chanteuse,” a outdated label that falls far short of doing justice to her creative vision, vocal prowess and riveting stage presence. Musically, her 20-year career has been sustained by a powerful, multi-octave voice that turns everything from Cuco Sanchez cantina heartbreak songs to torch-singer classics such as “La Llorona” into blazing, yet still sultry balms for the soul. Her original compositions are as apt to address political realities as they are to broach everyday life with a melancholic, brooding intensity. Or conversely, the songs will manifest themselves firmly as tender love songs that are both lullabies whispered to an infant and hypnotic incantations meted out to melt a lover’s heart. Over the phone from her home in Oaxaca, Ana Lila Downs Sánchez switches easily from Spanish to English. And while it’s been said countless t

Chinese Filmmaker Focuses Camera on Activist 'Sparrow'

By William Alexander Yankes Hooligan Sparrow, a documentary by debut filmmaker Nanfu Wang, takes its name from a well-known Chinese feminist and human rights activist who first gained notoriety when she offered to take the place of women being exploited as sex workers and provide the same services free of charge. Unconventional and daring, it was her way of drawing attention on their plight in a country where women’s rights are ignored or, worse, systematically trampled upon. In the film, Wang trains her camera on nine women, among them Ye Haiyan—source of the film’s title—that band together to protest the sexual abuse of six grade-school aged girls by their principal in 2013. ( Above: Filmmaker Nanfu Wang) Wang joins them in China’s Hainan Province where she and her subjects are followed, intimidated and threatened with bodily harm by government authorities when they take to the streets to demand justice for the six young victims and a legal sanction of their abuser. Her film,