Tlatelolco

When a tourist bus passes by the Plaza de las tres Culturas in Mexico City, the tourist guide has a challenge. The square in the center of the Tlatelolco-Nonoalco quarter is a veritable epicenter in the pages of Mexican history: the Aztecs retreated to this area under Cuauhtémoc before their ultimate defeat by the Spanish conquistadors in 1521; here, on October 2, 1968, ten days before the opening of the Olympic Games in Mexico, a student demonstration was violently suppressed; and in 1985 a massive earthquake toppled high-rise buildings in the immediate surroundings. The latter two events become the decisive historical markers for filmmaker Lotte Schreiber in this video, that otherwise delves above all into the spatial dimension. Rather than focusing on the monuments and representational architecture of the Plaza, Tlatelolco concentrates on the neighboring residential high-rises. Built in the 1960s under the supervision of the modernist Mario Pani, Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco-Tlatelolco, is the largest apartment complex in Mexico City. Realized at the zenith of Mexico´s economic boom Pani´s vision of the high rise as a “vertical city” beyond class distinctions has itself been shaken up on multiple occasions.

The fading of an urban architectural utopia is captured by Schreiber and cameraman Johannes Hammel in hundreds of material details including the peeling, weathering, and improvisations necessitated by the building´s decline. At the same time, the exactitude in the film framing keep current the powerful fascination for the massive-functionalist architecture. Similarly, the portraits of individual residents not only put the harsh living conditions into focus, but also the practices of assimilation that continue to carry Pani´s concepts beyond that of the monumental: shown exercising in the historical grounds are elderly women together with limber, muscular youths; in the courtyard, neighbors improvise a film screening.
(Joachim Schätz)

Translation: Charlotte Eckler

Orig. Title
Tlatelolco
Year
2011
Countries
Austria, Mexico
Duration
75 min
Director
Lotte Schreiber
Category
Documentary
Orig. Language
spanish
Subtitles
english, german
Credits
Director
Lotte Schreiber
Cinematography
Rafael Ortega, Johannes Hammel
Music
Steven Hess, Stefan Németh
Sound
Fridolin Schönwiese
Editing
Lotte Schreiber
Sound Editing
Manuel Grandpierre
Dramaturgical Advice
Emily Artmann
Production
Lotte Schreiber
Production Manager
Fridolin Schönwiese
Assistant Director
Ulrike Stehlik
Supported by
Foro Cultural de Austria Mexico, Graz Kultur, Wien Kultur, Cine Styria, Innovative Film Austria
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:1,85
Sound Format
Dolby stereo
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
colour
Blu-ray (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Sound Format
Dolby stereo
Color Format
colour
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Festivals (Selection)
2011
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
2012
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Buenos Aires Festival Int. de Cine Independiente BAFICI
Linz - Crossing Europe Film Festival
2013
Washington - National Gallery of Arts shows "Sixpack: The Austrian Experiment"
Rotterdam Architecture Film Festival