Teatro Macedonio Alcalá
Some time ago, I left the art of film-watching behind for online videos and the occasional blockbuster movie. However, there is something unique about the act of watching a film in the presence of other people: noticing when they laugh and cry and how they interact with the film. Through the medium of film, you can learn about the particular rhythms, humour and sensibilities of the people who make up the audience, as well as enjoying the actual content of the movie. Catching a film makes for an entertaining evening out. It’s also a chance to glean something of the rich culture that makes up the city of Oaxaca. With this in mind, I have taken to the streets to explore some truly great film venues and genres.
A favourite place to see a film in Oaxaca is at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá. The theatre, constructed from 1903 and completed in 1909, is one of the most beautiful colonial buildings in Oaxaca. You will notice its elegant blue-domed profile as you approach the Zocalo, along calle Independencía in the city centre. Inside, what a joy it is to see the gorgeous French-style gold brocade and tiered galleries fade into shadow as the film starts! Settle into a red plush cushioned chair, and imagine the thousands of performances that this grand theatre casino has seen in more than 100 years of Oaxacan culture. This theatre is used for special screenings. This month, check out the offerings of the 54 Muestra Internacional de Cine film festival from Cineteca Nacional (http://www.cinetecanacional.net/micrositios/muestra54/)
In contrast to the grand imperial designs of Teatro Alcalá, another option for great cinema is the intimate, jasmine-vined patio of La Jicara (Porfirio Díaz 1105). A librespacio cultural, La Jicara is a café, bookstore and gallery combined. It is an ever-changing site for local and visiting artists and writers. Enjoy a cup of what I argue is some of the best hot chocolate in Oaxaca, as you watch any number of eclectic and informative film genres. Known for international documentary series and excellent movie selections, you will be entertained and educated as you recline under the cool canopy with some good company. Find out what’s next on the screen at: http://www.facebook.com/librespacio.lajicara?fref=ts
On Wednesday nights, the big red velvet drapes are pulled over and the usual cumbia tunes are turned down at Café Central (Hidalgo 302). Free entry, you can sit back with a beer and pass around the bowl of popcorn. With a selection of films and shorts from all around the world, every week is like an international film festival. I remember the first time I went to a movie there. It was in Swedish, with very fast-paced Spanish subtitles. That was a fabulous test for my new language skills! Read about what is coming up at Central at: http://www.facebook.com/cafecentral?fref=ts
Centro de Artes de San Augustín
Many locals will speak of the Pochote cinema club with great fondness. You can catch their screenings out at the stunning new venue, the Centro de Artes de San Augustín, or CASA, which is around 40 mins outside of Oaxaca city. The cinema space is located within the Centre, which is itself a beautifully restored paper factory, and is very often surrounded by special art exhibitions and the workshops of artists in residence patronised by Francisco Toldedo. CASA’s website is: http://casanagustin.org.mx/
Coming up in May is the Ambulante film festival which this year boasts a selection of documentaries from 27 different countries. Also note in your calendar the fantastic Oaxaca Film Festival that happens during October and November. I guarantee that by exploring some of Oaxaca’s cinematic options, you will discover not only a wide variety of international and classic movies and authentic and quirky cultural venues, but also the people who make up Oaxaca’s unique cinema audience.
By Kim Groves