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El General (Directed by Natalia Almada)
This is an imaginative cinematic exploration into the contradictions among familial, personal and national memories framed around one of the most influential and controversial presidents in Mexico’s history—Plutarco Elías Calles. As Calles’s great-granddaughter, director Natalia Almada mines through and diligently edits audiotapes left behind by Calles’s daughter (her grandmother). Calles, who was hailed as a hero during the Mexican Revolution, became known as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until he was exiled in 1936.  

Sweeping views of present-day street vendors in Mexico City, together with archival materials like newsreels, photographs and old-Hollywood film clips, are innovatively used to meditate on the contemporary import of Calles’s legacy and the social-political-economic status of “the people” that revolutionary heroes like Calles sought to liberate. The experimental structure, ethereal cinematography and beautiful original score create a vibrant portrait of fractured personal, historical and national memories.

This is Almada’s second feature-length documentary, following her award-winning documentary Al Otro Lado, which is about immigration and drug trafficking. She was awarded the special jury prize for best directing at the Sundance Film Festival 2009, and El General will air on PBS’s P.O.V. in 2010. For more info, go to

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