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Tina In Mexico

The story of renowned photographer Tina Modotti, acclaimed for her innovative and impassioned depiction of social issues.

A printer-friendly version of this page 60 minutes
Directed by Brenda Longfellow
Produced by Brenda Longfellow and David McIntosh
Photographed by Chris Romeike
Edited by Brenda Longfellow and Glen Richards
Tina Modotti (on screen): Tania Cabagne Ibarra
Tina Modotti (voice): Allegra Fulton

"A succession of images that sear the soul." Jason McBride, Toronto Life
A new independent feature documentary by acclaimed Canadian director Brenda Longfellow, TINA IN MEXICO, follows the tumultuous and epic story of Tina Modotti, revolutionary, bohemian spirit and renowned photographer, acclaimed for her innovative and impassioned depiction of social issues.

Longfellow's film weaves archival footage, the luminous photographs of Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, the murals of Diego Rivera, and lyrical re-enactments, to conjure up the political, artistic and intimate spaces of their lives in Mexico during the 1920s. Drawing on Edward Weston's daybooks, the collected letters of Tina Modotti and imaginative recreations, TINA IN MEXICO is told through the voices of Tina, Edward, and their contemporaries.

Grade Level: College, Adult
US Release Date: 2004     Copyright Date: 2003
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-071-5     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-072-3

"For pure aesthetic allure and the kind of eroticism that's about life energy, nothing comes close to Brenda Longfellow's graceful and elegiac TINA IN MEXICO - impeccable work, a reminder of how the resonances of artfulness and mortality pervade black-and-white photography and film."
Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail

"Longfellow seamlessly weaves together archival footage, phenomenal photographs and dramatic reenactments (most in black and white, a few in shockingly lush color) which recreate famous photos, in motion. Others dwell on her life and surroundings, the camera gliding lazily over gorgeous still lifes: Modotti smoking pensively, the walls of a convent, dining tables groaning with fruit, the camera constantly moving, framing objects and figures with a refreshing is left with a succession of images that sear the soul."
Jason McBride, Toronto Life

"Longfellow's access to Modotti's diary and Weston's original photos gives her a close-up view of what these two Bohemian souls were experiencing during the devastating revolution that's hardly ever spoken of outside Mexico."
Now Toronto

"A beautifully intimate portrait that reveals not only the images, but the thoughts and words of these two great artists."
Gregorio Luke, Director of the Museum of Latin American Art

"Tina in Mexico splices together new and old documents, archival and recreated footage, personal and public experiences and events, to breathe even more life into Modotti's story... Longfellow achieves a good balance in presenting Edward Weston and Modotti's artistic and personal life together. Much too often, in order to preserve Weston's value in art history, some go to great lengths to construct an uneven relationship between him and Modotti, with the latter's role relegated to that of assistant and lover. Never denying Tina's apprenticeship with Weston, and his obvious influence on her work, Longfellow's documentary marks Tina her own woman... Much as Modotti saw 'maps of a history of exploitation' in the faces of the Mexican people she photographed so, in this documentary, we can discern, on the face of Longfellow's Modotti, the map for a history of exemplary cultural activism."
Prof. Pasquale Verdicchio, Dept. of Literature, University of California, San Diego Organizer of the 1996 International Conference on Tina Modotti, UCSD, in conjuction with the exhibition Dear Vocio

"More than being merely beautiful, this film is intensely interesting. It gives us an intimate view of what life was like in Mexico during the Mexican revolution from the point of view of a passionate political activist and artist. [Tina in Mexico] is highly recommended for college students and other adult audiences."
Susan Boatright, Educational Media Reviews Online

"This unusual documentary is true to the creative soul of its subject... Anything but a standard, linear biography, Tina in Mexico does draw from a timeline of Modotti's life, but is more interested in understanding her as an artist, a woman, and an activist, and in looking at how these facets often clashed and overlapped... Longfellow does a fine job of measuring Modotti's influence on Mexican art and politics, as well as the reasons for her eventual expulsion from the country and departure from photography. Recommended."
Video Librarian

"By blending Modotti's words and images with those of her colleagues and contemporaries, Longfellow captures the spirit of both the woman and the time and place in which she worked. [Tina in Mexico] deserves a place in any library. Highly recommended."
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Tina in Mexico web site

Awards and Festivals
Golden Rose Winner, Rose D'Or, Switzerland
Best Arts/Entertainment, Best Cinematography and Best Script, Golden Sheaf Awards
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival, Canada
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Best Arts/Culture Documentary, New Latin American Cinema Festival, Cuba
Western Psychological Association Film Festival

Film Studies
Latin American Studies
Latino and Chicano Studies
Multicultural Studies
Political Science

Related Titles

Coming to Light
An in-depth portrait of Edward S. Curtis, the preeminent photographer of North American Indians.

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The environmental impact of the 2,000 factories (maquiladoras) on the US-Mexico border.

Chávez Ravine
Don Normark's haunting photographs bring back to life a Mexican American village razed in the 1950s to build Dodger Stadium.

The Other Side
Poor Mexicans attempt perilous border crossing to US, often at the expense of family, traditional culture, and their lives.

The Boxer
A young male looks to escape Mexican poverty by becoming a boxer in the United States.

Hot Potatoes
Explores the dangers of potato blight and the chemicals used to control it.

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