Aldama Announced as Milwaukee Film Festival Keynote Speaker

by Phillip Witteveen on September 11, 2014

rsz_mcFrederick Luis Aldama will give the keynote speech at the Milwaukee Film Festival, which runs September 25 – October 9. The festival spotlights a different country each year as part of its “Passport” program, and this year will feature eight films set in Mexico, including seven by Mexican filmmakers.

Aldama has written extensively on Latino pop culture, reviewing its influences—not only in film, but also from Latinos in comic books, poetry, and NFL football. Aldama is co-author of !Muy Pop! (with Ilan Stavans); and most recently, author of Mex-Ciné. “The prodigious Aldama has done it again,” writes Richard Gordon in response his latest effort. “He brings his trademark smarts, panache, and innovation to Mex-Ciné—a tour de force that takes us into the subterranean recesses of the creative and consumptive mind in its making of and interfacing with contemporary Mexican cinema.”

Mex-Ciné is a book about movies—movies evoking and celebrating whatever filmed, cut and edited cognitive entity we get a sense of when we say the word “Mexico.” (The Mexico you see on TV, the one that pops into your head in certain (and bodega-like) aisles of the grocery store, the one you never really get a complete sense of in satellite photography, or National Geographic.) The idea of it. It’s an abstract Mexico that exists in media, and that can be analyzed politically, or put to art criticism; but for the critic and analyst we have in Aldama, it’s not as simple as that.

For Aldama, Mexican culture must all first be processed by more human filter: a cognitive filter. The movie has to be cogitated in order to exist, to be meaningful, to be conversational, or debated; and so it’s subject to—or perhaps an aestheticized form of—cognition. So, more specifically, insofar as we can talk about an on-screen or otherwise immaterial Mexico, it will be a Mexico that is ultimately a filtered result of the moviegoer’s own psychology—Mexico as percept and concept in the mind of the person watching and thinking about the film. Ultimately, the film-maker does not so much present the audience with his or her expression, but rather educes it from them. In Aldama’s theory and criticism, then, film is an art and industry of carefully arranged trains of thought.

Aldama’s career meditations on a nation in film puts him at the end of a very long perspective on the subject that he will be bringing to the 6th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival. The Festival’s Passport program—having featured the cinema of India, China and Germany—now turns to Mexico, with Aldama as their keynote speaker.

To find out more about the Milwaukee Film Festival as set into motion by Frederick Aldama, check out their website.

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