Published: Jan. 12, 2015

The Brakhage Center Presents: Chick Strand’s Anselmo Trilogy
Co Sponsored by the Film Studies Department Faculty and Staff
Monday, February 2nd at 7pm in VAC 1B20


Introduced by Taylor Dunne

1967. 4min. Color/Sound. 16mm
With Anselmo Aguascalientes and Balsamo the Magician. Music by La Banda Aguascalientes.
An experimental documentary in the sense that it is a symbolic reenactment of a real event.  I asked a Mexican Indian friend what he would like most in the world.  His answer was, “A double E flat tuba.”  I  thought it would be easy to find one at the Goodwill very cheap.  This wasn’t so, but a sympathetic man in a music store found a cheap but beautiful brass wrap-around tuba.  I bought it, smuggled it into Mexico and gave it to my friend in he desert. The film is a poetic interoperation of this event in celebration of wishes and tubas.

Cosas de mi Vida
1976. 25min. Color/Sound. 16mm 
Expressive documentary in an ethnographic approach about Anselmo, a Mexican Indian.  It is a film about his struggle for survival in the Third World.  Orphaned at age 7, he was the sole support of himself and his baby sister, who eventually starved and died in his arms.  The film continues with Anselmo’s struggle to live and to do something with his life other than a docile acceptance of poverty.  Totally uneducated in a formal way, he taught himself how to play a horn and when he became a man he started his own street band.  The film was started in 1965 and finished in 1975. During the 10 years I saw the physical change in Anselmo’s life in terms of things he could buy to make his family at first able to survive, and during the last years, to make them more comfortable.  I felt a change in his spirit from a proud, individualistic and graceful man into one obsessed with possessions and role playing in order to get ahead and stay on top, but one cannot help but admire his energy and determination to succeed, to drag himself and his family out of the hopelessness and sameness of poverty to give them a future.  Anselmo tells his own story in English although he does not speak the language.  After he told me of his life in Spanish, I translated it into English and taught him how to say it.


Anselmo and the Women
1986. 35min. Color/Sound. 16mm
Continuing the life of Anselmo, a Mexican street musician, and his life-long struggle to make a good life for his children.  This film focuses on his relationship with his wife Adela and his mistress, Cruz, and theirs with him. In a society where traditional gender roles are separate and sharply defined, the number of children defines male identity and keeps the women at home and dependent.  Poverty makes daily survival a desperate struggle.  Both men and women must cooperate, the men provide food and shelter and the women to raise and care for the large family.  However, the cooperation is often superficial, with very little communication in terms of inner emotional needs.  Relationships become economic in essence in which both men women perceive themselves living in an emotional desert.  The film is about lives in conflict from three points of view as told by the people involved.  It explores the division between the real and ideal.

Special thanks to Dan Boord and Jacob Barreras!