Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America

Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America
Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America

Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America
Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine Experimental en América Latina


Presented in conjunction with the Block’s exhibition Pop América:1965-1975, Block Cinema screens selected programs from Ism, Ism, Ism, a groundbreaking touring film series that offers the first comprehensive survey of Latin America’s vibrant experimental film history. Organized by filmmakers and curators/critics Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time II: LA/LA initiative, these programs feature key works made between the 1930s and the 2000s across the Americas. The Block will host five programs from the series, and will co-present another six programs at venues around Chicago.

Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina) was organized by Los Angeles Filmforum as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Ism, Ism, Ism surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today.

Ism, Ism, Ism is accompanied by a bilingual publication, Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, editors, University of California Press, 2017) placing Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models, and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. Available worldwide,

Lead support for Ism, Ism, Ism is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation. Significant additional support comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.


Programs in Series


Thursday, October 3, 7 PM

Dialogues with Che: Appropriations of a Revolutionary Figure 

(Various Artists, 1968-1997, Various Countries, digital and 16mm, 96 min total)


Friday, October 11, 7 PM

Dreams of Suitcases and a Blue Lobster 

(Various Artists, 1933-1998, Various Countries, digital, 70 min total)


Friday, October 18, 7 PM

Countercultures and Undergrounds 

(Various Artists, 1967-1979, Various Countries, digital and 16mm, 77 min total)

Friday, November 1, 7 PM 

Recycled Cinema 

(Various Artists, 1958-2012, Various Countries, digital, 61 min total)


Friday, November 1, 8:30 PM

Estrellas de Ayer: Latin Camp

(Various Artists, 1959-1975, Various Countries, digital and 16mm, 73 min total)

Ism, Ism, Ism: Chicago Screenings

Block Cinema is proud to co-present additional Ism, Ism, Ism screenings at micro-cinema venues around Chicago.   

Nightingale Cinema  (1084 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL)

Meta: Cinema Critiques Cinema
Wednesday, October 9, 7 PM 

In a reflexive mode, the filmmakers in this program contemplate their chosen medium, its history, defining characteristics and iconic movements. 


  • Agarrando Pueblo (The Vampires of Poverty) (Luis Ospiña and Carlos Mayolo, 1977, 29 min, Colombia)
  • Duelo (Duel) (Daniel Santiago, 1979, 3 min, Brazil)
  • Cinepolis, La Capital Del Cine (Cinepolis, the Film Capital) (Ximena Cuevas, 2003, 22 min, Mexico)
  • Chapucerías  (Enrique Colina, 1987, 11 min, Cuba)    
Umbrales: Experimental Women Filmmakers from Latin America
Wednesday, November 13, 7 PM

This program showcases female filmmakers who sought to carve out a place within the male-dominated world of Latin American independent audiovisual production.


  • Come Out (Narcisa Hirsch, Argentina, 1971, 11 min.)
  • Color (Lydia Garcia, Uruguay, 1955, 4 min.)
  • Desnudo con alcatraces (Silvia Gruner, Mexico, 1986, 2 min., silent, b&w)
  • Popsicles (Gloria Camiruaga, Chile/US, 1982-1984, 5 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles)
  • Umbrales (Marie Louise Alemann, Argentina, 1967, 19 min.)
  • Paracas (Cecilia Vicuña, Chile/US, 1983, 19 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles)
  • Devil in the Flesh (Ximena Cuevas, Mexico, 2003, 5 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles)
  • Copacabana (Vivian Ostrovsky, Brazil, 1983, 10 min.)
  • Blues Tropical (Poli Marichal, Puerto Rico, 1982, 4 min.)  

Filmfront  (1740 W 18th St, Chicago, IL)

Dark Matter
Saturday, October 12, 7 PM with co-curator Jesse Lerner in person

Military coups; civil wars; authoritarian regimes; U.S. led invasions: experimental cinema in Latin America has not escaped the impact of such ongoing forms of social upheaval. In many of these contexts, resistant social commentary can be a precarious, even dangerous, project. Tonight’s program unfurls a roster of defiant expressions so hazarded. 


  • Zona intertidal (Intertidal Zone) (Grupo Los Vagos, 1980, El Salvador, digital, 14 min)
  • Tristezas (Sorrows) (Paz Encina, 2016, Paraguay, digital, 7 min)
  • Materia oscura (Dark Matter) (Bruno Varela, 2016, Mexico, digital, 8 min)
  • Post-Military Cinema (Bea Santiago Muñoz, 2014, Puerto Rico, digital, 11 min)
  • La guerra sin fin (I’m Very Happy) [The Unfinished War (I’m Very Happy)] (Zigmunt Cedinsky, 2006, Venezuela, digital, 7.5 min)
  • Impresión de una guerra (Impression of a War) (Camilo Restrepo, Columbia/Francia, digital, 26 min)  
Bilingual Aesthetics
Saturday, October 19, 7 PM  

A critical look at cinematic investigations around issues of languages, translation, and communication. This program explores the movement between languages as a manifestation of identity pluralities. Unleashing the multiplication of heritage and affiliation in our contemporary landscape, these films reveal language as a will to power.


  • A Arca dos Zo'é (Meeting Ancestors) (Vincent Carelli & Dominique Gallois, 1993, Brazil, digital, 22 min)
  • Ñanderu Panorâmica Tupinambá   (Sérgio Péo, 1991, Brazil, digital, 8 min)
  •  La tierra es de quien la trabaja (The Land Belongs to Those Who Work It) (Chiapas Media Project, 2005, Mexico, digital, 15 min)
  • Pawqartampu (Felipe Esparza, 2015, Peru, digital, 8 min)
  • Estela  (Bruno Varela, 2012, Mexico, digital, 8 min)
  • Estamos para servile (We're Here to Serve You) (Ximena Cuevas, 1999, Mexico, digital, 2 min 40 sec)
  • Dilemma I: Burundanga Boricua (Poli Marichal, 1990, Puerto Rico, digital, 18 min)  

Comfort Station (2579 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL)

Psychedelia and Abstraction
Wednesday, November 6, 8 PM  

Abstraction has been a recurring strategy in Latin American visual cultures since long before the European Conquest. Over the past century, and often in dialogue with artists elsewhere, Latin Americans working in diverse media have explored both abstraction or – in the case of the Concrete art movement, who rejected the term “abstract” art as too suggestive of a link to a figurative realm that is being abstracted – “pure” explorations of color and form. Not surprisingly, filmmakers have participated actively in this process of exploration, often in collaboration with artists from other media.


  • Placeres de la Carne (Horacio Valleregio, Argentina, 1977, 12 min.)
  • Becky’s Eye (Willie Varela, US, 1977, 3 min., silent)
  • Nuestra señora de Paris (Teo Hernández, France, 1981-1982, 22 min.)
  • Cosmorama (Enrique Pineda Barnet, Cuba, 1965, 5 min.)
  • Electric Arthropods (Manuel DeLanda, US, 2017, 4 min.)
  • As without so within (Manuela de Laborde, Mexico/US/UK, 2016, 25 min)

ACRE (1345 W 19th St, Chicago, IL)

Urban Harmonies/Dissonant Cities
Saturday, November 16, 7 PM

Many filmmakers have maintained a fascination with the city, as Latin American cities were transformed by unfettered growth, industrialization, and massive rural to urban migrations. This program offers a range of urban visions—some more celebratory, others more critical—of the architecture, daily life, public spaces, and transportation of cities such as Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima, Bogotá, Los Angeles, Santiago, and London. 


  • Habana Solo (Juan Carlos Alom, 2000, 15 min, b&w, 16mm transferred to digital, Cuba)
  • Inùtil Paisagem (Louise Botkay, 2010, 6 min,  b&w, 16mm transferred to digital, Brazil)
  • Machinery No. 1 (Maquinaria No. 1) (Luis Soldevilla, 2011, 3 min, color, sound, video, Perú)
  •  Constitución (Constitution) (Melisa Aller, 2013, 4 min, b&w, sound, Super 8 transferred to digital, Argentina)
  • Despedida (Farewell) (Alexandra Cuesta, 2013, 10 min, color, sound, 16mm transferred to digital, Ecuador/USA)  
  • La Poubelle (Felipe Ehrenberg, 1970, 16 min, color, sound, video transferred to digital, México)
  • Rapsodia en Bogotá (José María Arzuaga, 1963, 24 min, color, sound, 35mm transferred to digital, Colombia)


ism-the_vampires_of_poverty-2web.jpgChicago Reader
Catey Sullivan October 3, 2019

‘Ism, Ism, Ism’ provides glimpses into overlooked world

"With films from more than a dozen countries screening at venues from Evanston to Pilsen, you wouldn't be wrong to count "Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America" ("Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine Experimental en América Latina") among the most wide-ranging festivals of its kind to appear in Chicago in recent years."