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Crossing Columbus and From the Other Side

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Streamed February 10 through February 16

Local lore and personal accounts from the borderlands between Mexico and the United States enliven two films presenting very different perspectives—one from a European filmmaker with a minimalist aesthetic, and the other from an Arizona native with a passion for history and storytelling.

Crossing Columbus

At the peak of the Mexican Revolution, General Francisco “Pancho” Villa’s army raided the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, in a devastating surprise attack on March 9, 1916. Far from forgotten, that tragic event is commemorated yearly in Columbus as the Cabalgata Binacional weekend. The affair—an occasion to promote peace and harmony between Mexico and the United States—has become a cross-border reconciliation attracting over a thousand participants, with many tracing on horseback Villa’s path across the Chihuahuan Desert for two weeks prior to the event. By deftly combining archival footage of the 1916 raid with contemporary accounts from colorful and astute local denizens on both sides of the border, a filmmaker from Arizona, Cathy Lee Crane, unpacks a devastating moment in American history—and in so doing raises all kinds of interesting questions about what it means to cross the border today. (Cathy Lee Crane, 2020, 75 minutes)

From the Other Side

With expressively long takes of street life in Mexican border towns, shadowy landscapes concealing escape routes, and boring traffic jams at boundary entry points—punctuated by recurring scenes of walls and fences—Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman combines elegant, abstract, and elegiac cinematography with blunt conversation. Family members tell tales of missing loved ones who disappeared completely as they passed through their homeland; self-proclaimed illegal immigrants reveal stories of why they left home for the United States; Mexican officials convey their government's sanctioned point of view; and isolated and anxious Americans living near the border express their worries about disruptions from invaders. “Long shots make you feel the journey. You cannot forget them, because I insist. . . You have them in your body.” (Chantal Akerman, 2002, 100 minutes)

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