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Film Screenings: Chulas Fronteras, and Del Mero Corazon (KBOO Community Radio)

Clinton Street Theater
2522 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202, United States (map)

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CHULAS FRONTERAS & DEL MERO CORAZON Music of the Mexican community on both sides of the border becomes a form of social protest. Suggested admission: $7-10, but no one turned away ever for lack of funds! #kboo #Teardownthewall #noborderwall #loveyourneighbor

CHULAS FRONTERAS (Beautiful Borders) filmed by the brilliant Les Blank in 1976, tells the story of the norteño or conjunto music which is played on both sides of the Mexico–Texas border. A complex, insightful look at the Chicano experience as mirrored in the lives and music of the most acclaimed Norteño musicians of the Texas-Mexican border, including Flaco Jimenez and Lydia Mendoza.

DEL MERO CORAZON (STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART) documents the cantina way of life, both celebrated and found wanting. Here homes are broken up, and not just by migrant work–sometimes even by the music itself. Both short films by Les Blank 1976. The heart of Chicano culture in love songs of the Tex-Mex Norteña music tradition. Performers include, Little Joe & La Familia, Leo Garza, Chavela Ortiz, Andres Berlanga, Ricardo Mejia, Conjunto Tamaulipas, Chavela y Brown Express and more

CHULAS FRONTERAS was selected by The Library Of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and was selected to be added to the National Film Registry list, as one of the 400 motion pictures to be preserved in perpetuity. We will also screen the beautiful short film, Del Mero Corazon, "Straight From The Heart."

For almost 20 years, Les Blank has scoured modern America for the remnants of a simpler, happier, richer life. A life that usually centers around such indigenous music as blues, zydeco and norteño. His lyric documentaries honor the origins and settings that beget such music in what has evolved into a personal visual language: skies and rivers and roads and fields and pastures; tools and wildflowers; well-worked hands and well-earned faces; and, above all, food–the festive, greasy, smoking, aromatic indelicacies of America’s regional cuisines. His work is a national treasure and is worth a look almost without exception.

Best of all of these programs is Del Mero Corazon, apparently constructed from Chulas Fronteras outtakes, in which Blank acknowledges, for once, the contradictions of contemporary simplicity. Associative yet acutely shaped, this is a movie in which the cantina way of life is at once celebrated and found wanting. Here homes are broken up, and not just by migrant work–sometimes even by the music itself. There’s more ugliness and sexuality than innocence and nobility of the faces, and the gorgeous two-dimensionality of the hot pastel backgrounds urbanizes Blank’s tone. A yearning lovesong belted over a UFW mural at the finale has more political power than all the slogans in Chulas Fronteras.

Blank’s work is so warm, human-scale and casual that it’s ideal for home viewing, especially as an opener for one of those mouth-watering meals he always makes you crave.

A lyrical journey through the heart of Chicano culture as reflected in the love songs of the Tex-Mex Norteña music tradition. Performers include, Little Joe & La Familia, Leo Garza, Chavela Ortiz, Andres Berlanga, Ricardo Mejia, Conjunto Tamaulipas, Chavela y Brown Express and more.

A film by Les Blank, Maureen Gosling,

Music of the Mexican community on both sides of the border becomes a form of social protest. Initial release: 1976

Reviewed by Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell

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