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Historia de un documento

filmmaker : Oscar Menéndez
Composer : Edgardo Cantón
France, 1971
Production : ORTF
French, Spanish


Made with images shot before, during and after the 1968 student movement in Mexico, "Historia de un documento" traces the events that took place in Mexico in that emblematic and tragic year. Subsequently edited in the early 1970s in France, with the support of the ORTF, the film was not broadcasted at the time, and was censored by the Mexican and French governments. "Historia de un documento" shows above all the clandestine recordings made inside the Lecumberri prison in Mexico City, where the political prisoners were held (status not recognized by the Mexican government).

Tënk's film review

"We had to get the voices and images of these men out of the prison." "Historia de un documento" refers to a double gesture of politics and representation: on the one hand it succeeds in giving a body to those whom the violence of the state had decided to make disappear, that is to say the political prisoners who had been erased from the public sphere after the Tlatelolco Massacre: the political prisoners filmed by themselves. On the other hand, Menéndez coordinates the creation of a document that aims to have a revolutionary propelling force: the film circulates in a first version through clandestine screenings that took place in schools, trade unions, agricultural cooperatives. Proposing prison as a social whole and therefore as a true metonymy of Mexico, Menéndez and his militant collaborators manage to visualize the existence of resistance and an alternative life to the organization of this place of death.

Federico Rossin
Cinema historian, independent programmer

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Oscar Menéndez

Óscar Enrique Menéndez Zavala (Mexico City, January 14, 1934) is a Mexican photographer, documentary filmmaker who distinguished himself by his cinematic treatment of social issues. Among his work is "Mexico Bárbaro"(1966), inspired by John Kenneth Turner's book of the same name in which the American journalist talks about his experiences since the end of the Porfiriato and the development of the Mexican revolution. He has also directed art documentaries such as "Malcolm Lowry in Mexico"(1988), on the English writer's stay in Cuernavaca in the 1930s when he wrote the novel "Under the Volcano" or "La batalla del Casino de la Selva 2001-2004/Libertad de expresión. Trayectoria de Adolfo Mexiac, artista plástico" (2009), whose inspiration came from the engraving of the same name by Adolfo Mexiac on the struggle for justice. He co-founded the ethnographic archives of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico, of which he was appointed director in 1982. He has worked at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Imevisión and TV UNAM, among other institutions. He is president of the Association of Documentary Filmmakers of Mexico and is director of the documentary distribution company La Rana del Sur.

Other films in the collection: History & Politics