Sunday, February 1, 2009

Art to bring about change

Lourdes Portillo recently came to at Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco to discuss the power of art, her creative process and her experiences in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, MX.

Portillo, a writer, director, producer, began her journey to making Senorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman) when she came across an article about murdered women in Juarez over 20 years ago. She was struck by how the women were "stabbed casually and dismissed readily." Having spent time in Juarez, the tragic situation captured her attention: how is it, she asks, that women can disappear and no one knows to where?

She went as a documentarian to begin investigating making a film, which became a long and harrowing experience because, as she says, "It is difficult to make art out of tragedy, because you can't make representational film because people don't want to see dead bodies. They don't want to see the horror of it, so I made a lyrical film so people can feel it, and dream."

In order to choose elements of the film, Lourdes "understood that people didn't know, that there was no solution nor blame, but there were many givens. I knew that I needed to do a film where the audience would need to rest, to digest the product. Film is a powerful medium; I need to be careful with how I presented it--people can't stand horror.

"My idea was to evoke a passion so that you will act; that you will go forward and make change...that you will open your heart to bring about a little bit of change. At least, at the very least, awareness."

Lourdes Portillo's website:

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