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From Real to Unreal: between documentary and fiction film

On the bulletin board in Natalia Almada's studio she has two note cards next to each other. One says “constructed documentary” and the other “documented fiction.” For Almada, documentary filmmaking is an improvisation with reality, not a depiction of it, and her films exist on the border between the two genres, inherently questioning the nature of objective truth versus subjective perception. After making El Velador, a film about narco-violence set in a cemetery in Sinaloa, Mexico, Almada wanted to make a film about the violence of bureaucracy, based on Hanna Arendt's idea that bureaucracy is a form of violence because it dehumanizes the bureaucrat. Yet, the nature of bureaucracy is also that it resists being documented, filmed. Faced with this obstacle as a documentarian, she decided to begin writing; "observing" her invented bureaucrat. In this talk, Almada will discuss the process of making Todo lo demás, which is currently in the final editing stages.
2012 MacArthur Fellow Natalia Almada is currently working on her first fiction film Todo lo demás (Everything Else).  Almada’s most recent film El Velador is a meditation on violence set in a cemetery in Sinaloa, Mexico which premiered at New Directors/New Films and the Cannes' Directors' Fortnight in 2011. She was the recipient of the 2009 Sundance Documentary Directing Award for her film El General, a poetic essay-film about the legacy of her great-grandfather Mexican president Plutarco Elias Calles. Her previous credits include All Water Has a Perfect Memory, an experimental short film that premiered at Sundance in 2002, and Al Otro Lado, her award-winning debut feature documentary about immigration, drug trafficking and corrido music. Almada’s films have screened in art museums and exhibitions around the world including, Documenta13, The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum and the 2008 Whitney Biennial. All three feature documentaries also broadcast on the national PBS award-winning series POV. Almada is the recipient of the Guggenheim, USA Artists, Alpert and MacDowell fellowships. She graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives between Mexico City and San Francisco.
The Mohr Visiting Artist Program is supported by Nancy and Larry Mohr and administered by Stanford Arts Office of the Associate Dean.
Image Credit: Still from TODO LO DEMÁS (Everything Else), Altamura Films, in post-production



Tuesday, February 9, 2016. 05:30PM


McMurtry Building, Oshman Hall, 355 Roth Way


Department of Art & Art History




Free and open to the public