Indiana University Bloomington

Documentarian Natalia Almada to speak at 'Porous Borders' film series at IU Cinema

  • Oct. 22, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Natalia Almada will discuss her documentary films about the effects that free trade agreements, narco-trafficking and immigration have on Mexican culture Oct. 28 at IU Cinema as part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series.

The associated film series, "Porous Borders," will include free screenings of "Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side)" and "El Velador (The Night Watchman)."

Jonathan Risner and Andrés Guzmán, assistant professors in Indiana University's Department of Spanish and Portuguese, organized the filmmaker's visit.

"Each one of Natalia Almada's documentaries is distinct in style and pace and poses fundamental questions about how one views and understands contemporary phenomena such as popular music, immigration, local fishing industries and the drug trade," Risner said.

"In the case of 'El Velador,' what is most remarkable about Almada's work is the poignant and poetic manner in which she treats her subject: a brutally violent drug trade. She approaches it through observation and shows its repercussions without ever putting the graphic violence itself on display," he said.

Almada earned an MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her films have been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum and The Whitney Biennial. In 2012 she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as the "genius grant." She now splits her time between Brooklyn and Mexico City.

"Porous Borders: Documentary Films of Natalia Almada"

Almada is expected to be present at each of the following events. Free tickets for the films are now available, with a limit of four per person for each show:

  • 7 p.m. Oct. 27, "Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side)" (2005) -- Economic forces in a small fishing village force 23-year-old corrido musician Magdiel to make a difficult choice: He can risk his life by joining the local drug trade, or he can face the deadly peril of the desert while attempting to cross the United States border. A question-and-answer session will follow the film.
  • 3 p.m. Oct. 28, Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture With Natalia Almada -- Risner will conduct an onstage interview with the filmmaker. Tickets are not required for this free event, but seating is limited.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 28, "El Velador (The Night Watchman)" (2011) -- This haunting documentary is a peaceful contemplation on Mexico's bloody drug war. The story is told through Martin, a man who watches over the lavish mausoleums of drug lords night after night in the rapidly expanding cemetery at Culiacán. A question-and-answer session will follow the film.

Tickets for IU Cinema films can be obtained at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; at the cinema one hour before any screening; or by phone at 812-855-1103 for a $10 service fee per order.

Almada's visit is sponsored by Indiana University’s College Arts and Humanities Institute; the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; the Latino Studies Program; IU Cinema; the Media School's Department of Communication and Culture; the Department of American Studies; and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

The Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series is made possible through the support of the Ove W Jorgensen Foundation. Past guests have included Peter Bogdanovich, Claire Denis, Ava DuVernay, Werner Herzog, Steve James, Abbas Kiarostami, Kevin Kline, Albert Maysles, Bill Morrison, Edward James Olmos, John Sayles, Meryl Streep and many others.

Natalia Almada

Natalia Almada | Photo by Icarus Films

Print-Quality Photo

Film still from "El Velador (The Night Watchman)" of Martin, who watches over the cemetery in Culiacan, Mexico.

Film still from "El Velador (The Night Watchman)" of Martin, who watches over the cemetery in Culiacan, Mexico. | Photo by Icarus Films

Print-Quality Photo

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Jon Vickers

  • IU Cinema
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