Meet Natalia Almada director of EL GENERAL

Meet Natalia Almada director of EL GENERAL, an official selection in the Documentary Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

DIRECTOR: Natalia Almada
Mexico/U.S.A., 2008, 83 min., color
Spanish with English subtitles

“How do we reconcile the contradictions between our personal family memories and our country’s collective memory?” When filmmaker Natalia Almada asks this question, the answer is her latest film, a tour de force of cinematic imagination bristling with beauty, contradiction, and the epic scope of Mexico’s last 100 years of history.

Stunningly realized, Almada’s filmic meditation is framed as a search through the memory of her grandmother, whose reminiscences revolve around her father, Plutarco Elías Calles, one of Mexico’s most prominent and controversial presidents. A general during the Mexican Revolution and then president from 1924 to 1928, Calles was known both for his deeds as a revolutionary hero and the brutal tactics he employed during his presidency. His life and legacy embody both the promise and betrayal of Mexico’s poignant history.

For Almada, the exploration of her extraordinary personal link to Mexico’s past becomes a lens through which she explores the qualities of cinema that have formed the fulcrum of her artistic practice over her career. Archival and original footage, Hollywood films, and still photographs are woven with original music and meticulously edited audio archives to reveal a hypnotic and deeply compassionate portrait of the Mexican people and the forces that have shaped their country.—CARA MERTES