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Diego Rísquez’ Amerika Trilogy, Part 2: Orinoko, Nueva Mundo

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 4:00pm
Los Angeles Filmforum and the Autry Museum of the American West present
Ism, Ism, Ism: Diego Rísquez’ Amerika Trilogy, part 2: Orinoko, Nueva Mundo
At the Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90027

INFO:, 323-377-7238

In the 1980s, the multifaceted artist, painter and filmmaker from Venezuela, Diego Rísquez, undertook the daunting project of a trilogy about the real and mythical histories of the Latin American continent and made his first feature film: Bolivar, Tropikal Symphony, which became the first Super 8 film to be selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. His second film, screening today, is Orinoko, Nueva Mundo which played at Cannes but never received distribution in the United States.  The film, surreal and multi-faceted, presents a speechless vision of the history of Venezuela and the Orinoco River basin before and after conquest.  Among the participating figures are Europeans such as Columbus, Walter Raleigh and Alexander von Humboldt, but through the eyes of the indigenous peoples whose lives were upended by colonization.

"Orinoko inverts the logic seen in illustrations that appear in books documenting the expeditions of the 16th century, such as those by Theodor de Bry, whose frontispieces featured images of indigenous people. The frontispieces of Orinoko feature the colonizers and their myths. America, represented in the form of its landscape (the Amazonian jungle), collects European myths and objects. Conceptual art, performance, and Super 8 reverse the structures of power, giving us an image of Europe as seen from America." -- Isabel Arredondo excerpt from "The Performative in Venezuelan Experimental Film" from Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America, editors Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza.

“With stunningly rich and complex visual images, Rísquez’ films eschew all dialogue yet present a coherent and critical reinterpretation of Venezuelan history.” —Ana M. López

”A history in foresight, this film delves into the conquests and incursions of European explorers, conquerors, and scientists into the Orinoco River's domain.   It captures that history in striking imagery, from the bizarrely symbolic to the neatly narrative. Famous figures and strangers wander through dense rain forest and muddy riversides, engage in conflict, trade, and conversion with the local people, who in turn engage in conflict, trade, and resistance. This film is a prophecy told in hindsight, so what makes sense to us is a terrifying promise to the native man whose visions compose it. Yet there is no sense of terror pervading the film; the conflict is disjointed and never graphic. The implied violence is as surreal as the images that make it to the screen.” – Sally Jane Black,

The third film of the trilogy, Amérika, Terra Incógnita, originally shot in Super 16mm and later blown up to 35mm, is composed like tableaux vivants offering a visual journey into the reverse perspective of European colonialism—the journey of a captive Indian into the Spanish court.  It screens Monday at REDCAT.  

Diego Risquez’s visit made possible by the generous support of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

Tickets: $10 general; $6 for students/seniors; free for Filmforum and Autry Museum members. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door.

For more information: visit and or call 323-377-7238 or 323-667-2000


Orinoko, nuevo mundo (Orinoco, New World)
Diego Risquez
1984, 35mm, 103 min., color, sound, Venezuela

“The Orinoko River is the main character of the film. It recalls the various people who have travelled on its waters. The first part of the film takes place during the time before the conquest of America, seen as an earthly pardise. In this fake anthropological documentary, there is a shaman, Yanomami, who uses a drug called “Yopo”, which provokes premonitory visions. He sees Christopher Columbus in 1498, arriving at the delta of the Orinoko, and the Catholic Missionary. A duel follows between the spiritual fathers of these different cultures: Walter Raleigh and the search for Manoa and Eldorado; Alexander von Humboldt, the German naturalist and Aimé Bonpland, the scientific discovery of the New World.

“At the same time, the film recounts a mythical journey while going up the river, where characters of Latin-American mythology, half-gods, half-men, half-animals, warn us that we are at its source. We see a woman, America, give birth to the river. The film tries to fill a gap of 300 years in the history of my country, from this discovery until its independence in 1810. “ – Diego Risquez

Diego Risquez (b. 1949, Juan Griego, Venezuela) is a multifaceted artist, painter and filmmaker, who has been actively working in the film world for the past five decades. Risquez became a referent of Latin-American Cinema experimenting with all sorts of genres and formats. His feature-length Super 8 film Bolívar Sinfonía Tropical (Bolivar Tropical Symphony, 1979) was part of the rich avant-garde art scene that characterized Caracas during the 70s. He achieved international recognition the experimental trilogy on the European conquest of South America,Orinoko Nuevo Mundo (Orinoko New World, 1984) and Amérika Terra Incógnita (Amerika Unknown Territory, 1988).  

John King in Magic Reels shares his thoughts on why Risquez became an international cult figure:  "Risquez shows an expansive imagination in creating sweeping, sensual, painterly canvases with very few resources: basic equipment and a group of non-professional actors, mainly friends, who take on the roles of emblematic figures of history and myth.”

This screening is part of Los Angeles Filmforum’s screening series Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina). Ism, Ism, Ism is an unprecedented, five-month film series—the first in the U.S.—that surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today. Revisiting classic titles and introducing recent works by key figures and emerging artists, Ism, Ism, Ism takes viewers on a journey through a wealth of materials culled from unexpected corners of Latin American film archives. Key historical and contemporary works from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, México, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the United States will be featured. Many of the works in the series are largely unknown in the United States and most screenings will include national and area premieres, with many including Q&A discussions with filmmakers and scholars following the screening. The film series will continue through January 2018 at multiple venues, organized by Filmforum.

Ism, Ism, Ism is accompanied by a bilingual publication, Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, editors, University of California Press, 2017) placing Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models, and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. Available worldwide,

Ism, Ism, Ism is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Explore more at,, and

Lead support for Ism, Ism, Ism is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.  

Significant additional support comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.  

Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.


This program is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors. 

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, video art, and experimental animation. 2017 is our 42nd year.

Memberships available, $70 single, $115 dual, or $50 single student
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