L'Alternativa, 25 Festival de Cine Independiente de Barcelona
Adrian Garcia Gomez
SHORTS 3 (90')
Wed 14, 15:30 H & SAT 17, 20:15 H @ AUDITORI CCCB
The filmmaker casts himself in the old Mexican films and American Westerns he grew up watching with his family in California. These disjointed vignettes explore memory, identity and queer desire, challenging popular representations of masculinity and traditional notions of power and vulnerability.
Hey Adrian, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Life is good, working on a new video in the middle of packing for a big trip back home.
Your short film La Mesa will be screened at L'Alternativa Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?
It’s my first time screening at L’Alternativa so I’m very excited to be included. Also, the exposure will be wonderful for the video. The first time I went to Barcelona I visited the CCCB, the museum where the festival is held and went through all the catalogues for the previous festivals in the museum bookstore. It’s still such a vivid memory, I’m very proud to be a part of the festival’s history.
Tell me a little bit about La Mesa, how did this film come about?
This was quite a long process. I started the video formally over 10 years ago, initially as a portrait of my father and La Mesa, the farm he grew up in rural Mexico. The piece was intended to document the house as it stands now overlaid with animations depicting the fragmented and romanticized stories I know about my father’s childhood. So, initially, it was an exploration of memory and identity as a first generation Mexican-American. As I began to work I started to incorporate found footage, clips from home videos and also old movies from Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema. The black and white imagery from these films greatly inspired the final look of my video.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
As I developed the video I gradually became uncomfortable by the fact that I was making a video depicting and romanticizing a very narrow version of masculinity. The old Mexican films and American western television shows I included are beautiful but horribly misogynistic. As I was constructing and reconstructing the memories and stories, I thought about how to incorporate queerness in the video and eventually decided to insert myself opposite the male leads in the found footage. So this has evolved to an exploration of memory, identity, the sense of belonging and different forms of masculinity.
How did you balance all your roles on this project?
I usually work alone so I’m in charge of everything from shooting/collecting images to creating the animations, building the sound and editing everything together. I’ve never started a video with a fully developed story/script in mind; I start working and allow the piece to develop intuitively until it becomes itself.
What were the biggest challenges you faced making La Mesa?
I actually really enjoyed working on this video. I took it up and put it aside many times over a period of 10 years but once I realized the direction of the piece, it was an absolute pleasure to work on it every day.
Have you always been interested in visual arts?
Yes, I started drawing when I was very young and eventually moved into lens-based media. For my first degree in San Francisco, I focused on photography and art history. I later studied 16mm film production in Mexico City and then got a Masters in photography and video in New York City.
How did you get into filmmaking?
It was a natural evolution for me building from my illustrations and photographs. My initial interest in studying 16mm filmmaking stemmed from the desire to add movement to my drawings.
"...I’m much more confident about my ideas and the tools I use to create these days."
How much has your style and approach to your work changed since you started out?
My approach is different for each project but I’ve always worked in the same way, developing the piece as I go. I’ve changed with every piece I’ve completed; I’m much more confident about my ideas and the tools I use to create these days.
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from La Mesa?
In general, a story about queer desire and migration that complicates the usual narratives. I’m also very interested in other children of immigrants seeing their experiences reflected on the cinema screen.