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On Screen @ La Biblioteca

In the Wake of the Flood

By Linda Whynman

In anticipation of Margaret Atwood’s February visit to San Miguel for the San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival, Audubon de México will screen In the Wake of the Flood, Canadian documentarian Ron Mann´s film that follows Margaret Atwood’s international book tour to promote The Year of the Flood, her dystopian novel about a cult of spiritual gardeners who survive an environmental apocalypse known as the “waterless flood.”

Film: In the Wake of the Flood Hosted by Audubon de México. Wed, Feb 15, 12pm. Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50a. Donations 60 pesos (non-members)

But this isn’t your everyday promotional book tour.  For at 70, Atwood, one of the acclaimed literary voices of this generation, is determined to do something meaningful about something she cares passionately about: raising consciousness, through action, of the destruction being wrought on birdlife by human activities.

For her tour, Atwood conceives and executes an ambitious and engaging theatrical version of her book in each of the communities she visits; joining volunteer performers in a grassroots production drawn from the text of her novel. The book is partially constructed around a cycle of 14 hymns scattered throughout the book that seek to shake the human race into an awareness of the fragility of the natural world and our vital connection to it. Atwood teamed with composer Orville Stoeber to write a new style of devotional music influenced by country ballads, gospel, jazz, and folk music.

Atwood’s idea in bringing a live version of her book to an audience was to go beyond identifying environmental and social ills – concerns such as climate change, pollution, economic inequity, and racism. Rather, she sought to inspire her audience into awareness and civic action.

The resulting film, In the Wake of the Flood, chronicles Atwood’s journey, offers glimpses of the theatrical performances of her book, shares her rugged and adventurous childhood, and features conversations with some of the like-minded fellow travelers she encountered along the way.  These include a community gardener, an eccentric bird watcher and, most notably, Bill McKibbon, an environmental activist and founder of the climate change organization  It also features archival footage of legendary activists such as Rachel Carson and Euell Gibbons combined with animated sequences to tell a story of warning and hope.

Through it all, Atwood emerges as a sage elder whose sensibility and humor is always in the foreground as she shares her life and eco-fable with her audience and us.

The Navajo Weavers

By Jonathon Williams

Jonathon Williams began his filmmaking career writing and directing many award-winning television commercials. It was during the later years of his advertising days that he was first called upon to write both screenplays and teleplays, thus providing a starting point at directing his first documentary.

Film: The Navajo Weavers, The Unchanging Artists of the Southwest. Q&A Following the film with Director Jonathon Williams. Fri, Feb 17, 5pm. Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A. Donations 60 pesos

His first film was a look at the architect Antoine Predock, a short film based on the life and unique buildings of the well known Southwest artist. Since then Williams has been called three times to produce and direct films based on the history of and life on the Navajo Reservation.

His most popular film The Navajo Weavers,The Unchanging Artists of the Southwest, will have a special showing. See the history and spiritual journey that the weavers go through with each work of art. Jonathon has recently completed another one hour film, Old West Trading Post, 100 Years of Barter and Trade. This film has just been released in the U.S.

The director will be present at both viewings before and after the show, to answer questions and talk about the making of this film. Don’t miss the legend and story of this rich, disappearing art.

Reel Docs presents They Came to Play

By Caren Cross

Entertaining, irreverent, and above all, inspiring, They Came to Play is a multi-award-winning documentary film chronicling the International Piano Competition for Amateurs. The film provides an intimate look into the lives of colorful, multi-faceted competitors as they strive to balance the demands of work and family with their love of music.

Film: Documentary Film Series: They Came to Play. Tue, Feb 14, 5pm. Wed, Feb 15, 5pm. Santa Ana Theater, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A. 80 pesos for film, Q&A with director, and Margarita Reception

The New York Times named it a Critic’s Pick, saying, “…beautifully executed…you can feel the joy and surprise that must have gone through the concert hall and the winner.”  The Seattle Post called it, “…superior to the spate of recent documentaries about competitions…fascinating.”

Top amateur pianists from all over the world, ranging from self-taught to classically trained, aged 35 to almost 80, convene for a week of competition, music, and camaraderie. Years of dedicated preparation culminate in top-level performances before a professional jury and discerning audience during three nerve-wracking elimination rounds.

All of the film’s heroes have made their careers outside of music in fields ranging from medicine to business, and professional tennis to education. For competitors who have faced such extraordinary challenges as drug addiction, AIDS, or political asylum, the competition is also a triumph over adversity. For all, it represents an overwhelming desire to express a deeper side of themselves, musically and otherwise.

Alex Rotaru, director, hails from Romania where he was an award-winning child actor. Subsequently he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics from MIT, and then, believe it or not, went to film school at USC! He has worked on many documentaries, the most current of which is about America’s oldest high school competition of Shakespearian Theater. Of Rotaru, Neil Genzlinger wrote in the New York Times, “…beautifully executed… Mr. Rotaru paces the film perfectly, mixing performance footage with scenes of the competitors talking about their lives and the role music plays for them.”

Reel Docs is a documentary film series that brings top-notch films to San Miguel along with a director, cinematographer, or producer. In the case of They Came to Play, the director will be participating in a Question & Answer period following the film.


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