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EL Cine

The Guadalupe Cartel at Cinefestival 2012

Photo: Erik Gustafson, License: N/A

Erik Gustafson

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CineFestival 2012 is almost over, and the feeling I get is that the festival's 34th annual edition was a lesson on how to put together an impressive lineup of films with limited resources. But even better: once the films and other events (the Girl in a Coma concert, Q&A, and screening, for example) were secured, the CineFestival and Guadalupe team did their best to properly promote them, and the results rendered early fruits — the GIAC screening of Jammin' was sold out and Guadalupe had to release 50 extra tickets so all the fans could attend. Kudos for a job well done.

Topping my final CineFestival picks is Natalia Almada's El Velador, a meditative study on those who maintain the cemeteries of dead drug cartel leaders in Northern Mexico. Almada had already caught my eye with two solid documentaries, 2005's Al otro lado and 2009's El General, but El Velador has a completely different mood. She has an incredible eye for images that put you right in the middle of the action and a poetic sensibility that shows you the War on Drugs in a unique way by offering a movie on violence without violence. You can see her 55-minute film at 6 p.m. Wednesday, February 29.

At the other end of this topical spectrum is El Sicario, Room 164, a chilling documentary directed by Gianfranco Rosi (based on a Charles Bowden Harper's magazine article) in which a former drug cartel hit man describes in detail what he did and how he did it for 20 years. The straight-ahead, unembellished piece of filmmaking goes on at 7 p.m. right after El Velador. Each of these films are $8.

Finally, Water and Power is a sneak preview of the film by writer/director Richard Montoya (from the L.A. comedy trio Culture Clash) that was developed at Sundance's Directors Lab, and based on a Montoya play. Still a work in progress, expect a politically charged and at times hilarious movie. Tickets for this one are $20, and the movie starts at 8:10 p.m. Saturday, March 3. All movies shown at the Teatro Guadalupe (1301 Guadalupe). Full details at

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