Pedro González-Rubio’s Alamar (2009) is his second feature film set in the Yucatán Peninsula. Alamar invokes different formats and genres of visual culture –the nature documentary, the home movie, the family album, and the picture book—to create a new form that is dedicated to the patient unraveling of a simple plot, and to registering the lyrical possibilities of the physical world. The documentary Toro Negro (Black Bull, 2005), also a family portrait, co-directed with Carlos Armella, tracks the life of Fernando Pacheco, a death-driven young bullfighter from Valladolid, Yucatán.
Both Alamar and Toro Negro breathe new life into the stale visual repertoire of this geographic region, which has been mostly used as the backdrop for tourist videos, spring-breaker snapshots, and popular television adventure and travel shows. Seen almost exclusively from an exoticizing perspective, the Yucatán Peninsula has been framed as a recreation area –where the fantasy of discovery and exploration can be mapped out on to its landscape—or, alternately, as a place of ethnographic, archeological, and natural wonder. The dominant representative mode –aligned with the broader project of tourism development that has caused ecological devastation—has effaced the visual specificity of the region, dispossessed its communities of the possibility to articulate a local history and sense of time, and privileged generic spectacle over personal narratives.
Paulina Suárez is PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at NYU. She has an MA from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Literature from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
Alamar is currently playing at Film Forum in New York City through Tuesday, August 3rd and at the San Francisco Film Society in California through Thursday, August 5th. Click here for other upcoming theatrical engagements of the film around the country.