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The trees live standing: Colectivo ÁRBOL ROJO

By Antonio Harfuch Álvarez
(Tanslation: Diego Lizondo)

The State of Quintana Roo has established itself as one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. In addition to being globally known for its beaches, the initiatives of an extraordinary group of people have managed to promote and disseminate independent and auteur films. The capital of the state, Chetumal, which comes from the Yucatec Ch’aak Temal and means “where the red trees grow” also represents the name of an association that has raised its voice for the seventh art.

Árbol Rojo is the name of this group of film professionals who for two years have organized special exhibitions, cycles, and extensions both in the capital and in the paradisiacal municipality of Bacalar. In their recent, but prolific career, they have taken premieres and previews of films that could hardly have reached the southeast of Mexico. Some of the titles are Knife + Heart (La Daga en el Corazón, 2018) by Yann Gonzalez, Los Muchachos Salvajes (2012) by Patricia Ferreira and more recently Climax (Clímax, 2018) by Gaspar Noé. The strong alliances with institutions such as the Cineteca Nacional, the University of Quintana Roo and internationally renowned festivals such as FICUNAM, Black Canvas and recently, the incorporation of Cuorum Morelia, gave attendees the first exhibition of its Continuous Program that was carried out from February 21 to March 2.

The conversation with this passionate group began from the last edition of the Sexual Diversity Program of Morelia. From the moment the consultancy of the independent management of the Diversity Program in Morelia took place, Árbol Rojo has offered its caring support. In this new independent phase, thanks to the advice of experts, the foundations have been laid to create a project that moves away from cultural centralism.

In 2018, Árbol Rojo and the Sexual Diversity Program formed an important collaborative and operative alliance that was carried out in the Clavijero Cultural Center. The civil association showed its solidarity with an emerging team that celebrates the communion of two young and restless projects to make visible a cutting-edge cinema and diversity.

Árbol Rojo showed three qualities that contributed to the essence of the organization of the Sexual Diversity Program, today the Cuórum: Partnership, Complicity and Commitment. These values and attributes, necessary for the formation of a team united in the objectives of a noble mission and a vision, have as a core point the dissemination of quality cinema.

Reapariciones, Reparaciones (Reaparitions, Reparations) was the cycle presented in the State of Quintana Roo conformed by international, national premieres, short films of the past Sexual Diversity Program and the Forum of Identities. Thanks to the support and management of organizations such as the Human Rights Commission and Kybernus, this edition was a success.

With a total of 7 films and 12 short films that show the reality of people reappearing and repairing wounds after the loss, festivals such as Berlin, Cannes and Xposed were present. Las Herederas (2018) by Maricelo Martinessi, Terror Nullius (2018) by Soda_Jerk and the empowering Bixa Travesty (Marica travesti, 2018) by Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman, were just some of the projections that strengthen the defense of identity and freedom.

Tania Claudia Castillo (Camelina de Plata, 2018), presented Un amor en Rebeldía (2018) by Tatiana Castillo. This documentary, which narrates the struggle of Yan María Castro, founder of the Oikabeth movement in Mexico under a context of discrimination and repression, defends the positions of gender and sexual diversity. To date, this struggle of Mexican women who remained invisible and subjected, is considered a milestone in the organization; a political movement that fought to gain its place in society.

María Bonita (2017) by Roxana Anaya presents the portrait of a trans woman who resurfaces despite being forgotten and the lack of recognition. Her lens dignifies, as a companion in the struggle, the Cabaret scene in Mexico. The documentary sensitizes and motivates us to look at places that in their time became fronts to make community with a special emphasis on diversity.

Lila (2018) by Paolo Wriedt elaborates a story about sexuality and experiences rarely seen on screen but judged. It tells the story of the sexual tension that arises between two cousins, not from the morbid interest, but from the incessant appearance of desire as a leafy territory to discover.

On the other hand, the director Jesús Torres Torres traveled to Chetumal and Bacalar to present his first feature Nadie Sabrá Nunca (2018) in front of students and audiences of all ages. They, captivated by the creative proposal to combine the melodrama with the western genre, applauded the plot of the story. In it, a mother and her son seek to escape from an overwhelming reality through the fiction of soap operas.

The Identity Forum, held at the initiative of Árbol Rojo, was a learning experience through dialogue and exchange of ideas with activists and cultural managers committed to their cause. Edwin Reyes made an urgent call for the acceptance and justice of people who have been harmed because of their diversity; the passion of Alejandro Silveira, director of Árbol Rojo, promoted a cinema of transversal diversity in the social and sexual, but also in the formal and aesthetic. Culture is encouraged to build empathy.

The efforts of Enrique Paniagua, an initiative of Kybernus, seek to strengthen the frameworks of legality with the LGBT + community and the struggle for human rights. Representing the Human Rights Commission of Quintana Roo, Ana Patricia Reyes, called to promote the improvement of diversity in the peninsula. Alejandra Suárez, a credible defender of human rights, moderated the Forum for Identities that offered tools to promote the acceptance and normalization of these issues.

The audience, witnessing the diversity and supporting each effort, went to each function to join a new panorama: to question heteronormativity and value diversity. People of all ages shared their experience: “Bones of Contention (2017) by Andrea Weiss is a film that should be seen in universities”; “What you see in Las Herederas (2018) by Marcelo Martinessi, is not very distant from what happens here in Mexico”; “Bixa Travesty (2018) by Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscilla, is a new and powerful speech that demolishes every argument that had been made against sexism”. “I thought that La Daga en el Corazón (2018) by Yann Gonzalez, was a gay movie but it is really diversity cinema, because we see the differences that there are in universal feelings like love and that this can exist in such different ways but that go to the same place. “

More than 1,000 people witnessed the cinema of diversity that seeks faithfully to find new ways of looking at others. From the organization of a strong team, skillful and aware of the importance of spreading quality and auteur films and that honors the meaning of Árbol Rojo, the cycle of Reapariciones Reparaciones ended with Knife + Heart (La Daga en el Corazón, 2018) by Yann Gonzalez. The director’s avant-garde proposal crossed the mind and heart of the Chetumale people as if it were a sharp and piercing weapon; the aesthetic diversity and the daring proposal will not be forgotten, nor will the universes created by Gonzalez to see the light in the darkest.

With this cycle curated for Árbol Rojo, the confidence of a team awaiting the emergence of new cultural projects and the insistence to continue them is confirmed, even when the situation seems complex. They have opened new spaces in Chetumal to continue building forums through the cinema. Under the strong belief of cultural projects in Mexico, a Quorum has been created for friends, family, moviegoers and activists.

From Cuórum, we are grateful to open the doors to the filmmakers of Mexico who have sought to repair historical wounds and reappear in the face of invisibility and censorship, in the face of fear and oblivion. Realities that have not been represented, and an unwritten past with which history would be different. Forces that reappear to people who are as vital as trees; trees that grow in the woods and in the cities remembering the indestructible feeling of which St. Thomas talked about: “He who has lost his passion has lost more than he who has lost himself in his passion”.

Cuórum reiterates its deep and eternal gratitude to a strong and constant Civil Association, that does not lose sight and that in every activity that organizes puts the effort to demonstrate the wood with which they are made. Their example and inspiration have become a clear reference in the need to create responsible spaces and firm civil associations that provide counterweight and balance in society.

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