Felipe Cazals presented Canoa at the 16th FICMBy: Azul Ramírez @azulartx
As part of the 70’s Mexican Film series of the Cineteca Nacional, the Mexican filmmaker Felipe Cazals presented Canoa (1976) in the company of Daniela Michel, founder, and director of the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), who highlighted the incredible restoration work done by The Criterion Collection.
“This film is more relevant than ever, yesterday I had a very animated talk with Alfonso Cuarón and he told me that the films of the golden age were never so present for him because his reference has always been Felipe Cazals,” said Daniela Michel.
Canoa takes place less than a month away from the violent events in Tlatelolco in Mexico City, when a group of young workers from the University of Puebla arrives in the town of San Miguel Canoa, near the capital of Puebla, to climb the mountain of La Malinche. However, the excursion becomes a nightmare when the villagers, incited by the priest, confuse them with “communist guerrillas”.
At the end of the show, in a Q&A session, Cazals spoke about the importance of the film at the time and even now, more than forty years after its premiere: “Canoa is considered a turning point in the history of Mexican cinema because all the habitual narrative profiles of cinema in Mexico had an absolute resemblance, the themes always contained idealized and unrealistic characters, after all those who preceded us in the direction of films were good directors but absolutely obedient to the wills of the producers who did nothing more than repeat totally dumbed-down formulas”.
“By the seventies, we told the producers that we would not make the films they wanted, we decided to make another cinema, in the specific case of Canoa in this panorama, we decided to tell something that was close to us, but not only to report it and provide testimony, but to have a critical point of view of what we were talking about. Canoa is filmed and built with false documentaries and by real testimonies, all performed by actors,” explained the director.
The filmmaker also talked about his philosophy when filming: “What I’ve definitely known since I made my first film and up until the last one, is that the action defines the character, and space determines the action.” This personal recipe is the only one that can explain how I film,” he concluded.