The Cinema and the Stars

by María Jimena


At almost two years of age, my son had never been to the movies. Of course he had seen many films and videos – on the computer or TV. But he had never been in front ot the magical screen. He had never been part of the ritual.

The children’s documentary film program, Ambulantito, closed the documentary series Ambulante last May. Puerto Escondido was the last stage of its three-month tour of 12 states in Mexico. All its shows are free. This year’s theme was “The Things That Make Us Different.”

María Jimena and son
María Jimena and son

Children and their parents were already comfortably seated, when our family arrived at the Agencia Municipal, just before 8 pm, with the last light of day. As soon as the open-air theater was dark, the projection started and the kids who had been circling round on their skateboards and bicycles drew near. With the short introductory sequence, in which a group of children climbed over a sand dune, one of whom as naked as the day he was born, the little ones burst into delighted laughter, and I saw my son become gradually immersed in the collective experience.

The first documentary, the Spanish Migrópolis, featured a monkey, a squirrel and some lambs who spoke in children’s voices about what it is like to live in a new place, that is, the life of a migrant. A perfect theme for Puerto.

What a wonderful audience there was that night! Apathy and indifference flew away! Sitting next to me was a boy of nine or ten who assumed the posture of a reality show judge and examined severely all the cartoon characters. When the opening short ended, he let out a merciless “booo!” Others applauded.

The crowd quickly warmed up to Bottle from the U.S., the story of two creatures on foreign shores which provoked shouts, questions and answers from the audience as if in dialogue with the screen and with the other viewers, whom I cannot see but who are there sharing the experience. The children and their parents laughing together. And so it was, wave by wave as if on a boat at sea, the mini documentaries gently carried us away, together, erasing differences in age, nationality and language, under the evening sky. The third film, the Canadian The Animal Movie, — a music spectacle that took us riding on the backs of one beast after another — left my son in stitches. My neighbor, the fierce critic, applauded effusively.

The subject matter got serious during the second half of the program, setting out more complicated situations and difficult, but not intractable, themes, thanks to the most powerful tool for dialogue invented by human beings — art. Running the gamut from deafness to mental disorders, the sense of guilt, and street children. It was a revelation. I saw on my child’s face a much deeper understanding than I had imagined and, better still, empathy. This is the power of cinema.

Cinemar: Movies are best seen at the movies

For many years, Cinemar on Zicatela was a popular place to while away the hours, a beach hangout with a small screening room, which also sold used books and surfboards. When Dove Sussman acquired the establishment, he realized the obvious: Puerto Escondido needed a serious cinema, with a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting, in which to view new and classic films. In November, Dove moved Cinemar, Puerto’s only movie theater, to Café Choc in Rinconada where it had its pre-inauguration debut with the Oaxaca Film Fest. (Last May Cinemar was a major sponsor of Ambulante 2012.) The 35-seat, air-conditioned theater offers three shows daily (5, 7, and 9 p.m.) and soon will have matinees and children’s programs. All films have Spanish subtitles. The theater is also available for early afternoon screenings of the films of your choice.

Cinema on the Beach

Every Wednesday night, at 7:30, from December through March, you can catch a feature film under the stars at the Hotel Villasol’s Club de Playa on Bacocho beach. There is beach chair and table seating for up to 80 people, and the giant screen measures 2.5 by three meters. The films, which are in English with Spanish subtitles, are all free, and you can buy food and drinks. Call 01 800 717-9050 for program information.

La escalera al arte

Escalera al arte
Escalera al arte

A group of Puerto university students and professors meet every Thursday to view a film and hold a cultural event: performance art, music, poetry readings, photography exhibitions etc. The works are by local artists, sometimes by the students themselves. They call it La escalera al arte (The Stairway to Art), and you must enter through the stairs between the Escuela de Idiomas of UABJO and the REU university located on calle Marina Nacional - the one-way street that goes down to the Adoquín. The events are free and open to the public. The doors open at 6 pm.

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