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Pacific Film Archive presents Dreams of Suitcases and a Blue Lobster: Latin Surrealism

Introduction: Curator and scholar Tarek Elhaik, an associate professor of anthropology at UC Davis, is the author of The Incurable-Image: Curating Post-Mexican Film & Media Arts and the founder of AIL: the Anthropology of the Image Lab.

This program brings together short films that share an interest in exploring cinema’s oneiric, disturbing, and irrational potential. Within The Blue Lobster, a lost treasure from Barranquilla, Colombia, about a foreign secret agent investigating radioactive lobsters, one can detect the roots of what would later become magic realism. Álvaro Cepeda Zamudio [and co-filmmaker Gabriel García Márquez] avoid the literary, the theatrical, and the picturesque. Luis Ernesto Arocha, also from Barranquilla, is represented with a work about the sculptures of Bernardo Salcedo. The frenetic editing and dense and fragmented soundtrack bewilder the viewer’s perception. Photographer Horacio Coppola created the short Freudian exercise Traum while a student at the Bauhaus. Raúl Ruiz’s first film, a surreal mix of suitcases and somnambulists, was lost for decades in a Chilean archive during Pinochet’s military rule. Mariana Botey’s The Magic of the Smoked Mirror, made in collaboration with the actor-director-artist Juan José Gurrola, represents an intersection between two generations of Mexico’s avant-garde.

—Luciano Piazzo and Jesse Lerner, cocurators, Ism, Ism, Ism

This program is part of the touring series Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America; the related catalog is available in the Museum Store.


Horacio Coppola, Argentina, 1933

Las ventanas de Salcedo

Luís Ernesto Arocha, Colombia, 1966

The Blue Lobster 
(La langosta azul

Álvaro Cepeda Zamudio, Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia, 1954

The Suitcase 
(La maleta

Raúl Ruiz, Chile, 1963–2008

The Magic of the Smoked Mirror 
(El dedal de rosas

Mariana Botey, Mexico, 1998