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Canoa: A Shameful Memory

Felipe Cazals

One of Mexico’s most highly regarded works of political cinema, Canoa: A Shameful Memory reimagines a real-life incident that had occurred just eight years before its release, when a group of urban university employees on a hiking trip were viciously attacked by residents of the village of San Miguel Canoa who had been manipulated by a corrupt priest into believing the travelers were communist revolutionaries. Director Felipe Cazals adopts a gritty documentary style to narrate the events in Canoa while referencing the climate of political repression that would lead to the massacre of student protesters in Mexico City shortly thereafter. The resulting film is a daring commentary on ideological manipulation, religious fanaticism, and mass violence, as well as a visceral expression of horror.

“This self-knowing movie feels like Costa-Gavras, in his peak years, crafting a stew of The Ox-Bow Incident and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Except, crucially, it’s all true, and so meticulous you could write your own police report about the real 1968 incident… Blunt and bloody, the movie is a piece of history itself, graphically delineating the era’s collision course between autocratic power and generational discontent, a process that tore up Mexico in its own ‘dirty war.” – Michael Atkinson, Sight & Sound

“Gritty, realistic, and blunt, Canoa: A Shameful Memory proceeds with a kind of grim certainty toward its gruesome climax. It’s also a clever act of displacement, shifting the blame for the persecutions it depicts from the government to a debased strain of the clergy… It’s striking that Cazals managed to denounce the regime so forcefully without showing more of his hand.” Max Nelson, Film Comment


  • 9/15 | 7:00PM
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