Filed away in the Centro de DocumentaciÃ³n at the Cineteca Nacional are promotional brochures from 1975, records of an orange-saturated world of geometric-patterned carpets that hasnâ€™t existed for thirty years. The Cineteca caught fire in 1982, less than ten years after opening, its entire collection destroyed. (Within Mexico, the cause of this â€œcultural crimeâ€ is still officially listed as unknown, although those inclined to paranoia whisper that it was sabotage, the obliteration of a countryâ€™s past. Legend has it that the print of the Polish film playing when the fire started was somehow salvaged from the rubble, and that everywhere itâ€™s shown a fire breaks out.)
The Cine MÃ³vil program sent mobile cinema units ambling around rural Mexico in those pre-fire years, bringing ‘buen cine mexicano’ to small villages that often didnâ€™t even have electricity, let alone a movie theatre. There were three different vans with three different routes, outfitted with four-wheel drive (â€œtaking the abruptness of our geography into considerationâ€) and with room for two: beds, a bathroom, a kitchen, storage space for the projection equipment, a small film archive, workbench, screens, sound equipment. The young projectionists lived in the vans for the month it took to wind their way through the countryside, traveling from town to town during the day, setting up their equipment for a screening each night and making super 8 documentary films on those they encountered.
(But where are the vans? And where are the films? Were they lost to the fire? Or are they out there somewhere, hidden away?)
-Audrey Young, TÃ³xico International Intern–