Video of the Day: A Film About Violence with No Violence
Natalia Almada has some serious bragging rights. Awarded a MacArthur Fellowship just a few weeks ago, the rising documentary filmmaker will have the word "genius" (as in "genius grant") attached to her name in every article and film festival bio for the rest of her sure-to-be-long career. Her work, however, gives no indication of an oversize ego.
Almada's remarkable 2011 documentary about the Mexican drug cartels, El Velador, uses the night watchman in a cemetery populated with the garish mausoleums of overambitious drug lords as an entry point to the ongoing tragedy that is contemporary Mexico. The filmmaker, who taught an intensive, well-received documentary workshop at the S.F. Art Institute this summer, infuses her work with a lyricism, pace, and poetry that is as far from the notion of "educational films" as you can get. Her experiential approach gets us closer to the truth of the situation and the place, and sticks with us far longer than a formulaic recitation of facts and assemblage of talking heads. Tune in to Almada now, before she gets really big.