Black Canvas 2021: Decentralize and live contemporary cinema


Since 2017, Black Canvas Contemporary Film Festival has been characterized by offering Mexican viewers a more risky, challenging and avant-garde film programming worldwide. For the second consecutive year, the 5th edition of the film contest, to be held until October 10, 2021It is presented under a hybrid scheme with screenings at the Cineteca Nacional, Cinemex, La Casa del Cine MX and the University of Communication; as well as virtual functions on the platform FilminLatino to stir the senses and emotions, not only of the moviegoers of the capital of the country, but of the entire Mexican Republic.

The unmissable of Black Canvas 2021

The 5th edition has a selection of around 147 films from 46 different countries divided into 6 feature film sections: New Horizon, Lighthouse, Daylight, State of the world and Mexico inside the Canvas; as well as 2 short film sections: National Short Film Competition and the International Short Film Competition. Finally, we have the mixed selection baptized as Beyond the Cavas.

“We gathered 21 films belonging to what we consider the filmmakers of the Mexican future. It is a hotbed for the eyes of young filmmakers; many of them with independent training or those that come from the most important film schools in the country “, he highlighted Claudio Zilleruelo Acra, artistic director and programmer of Black Canvas, on the National Short Film Competition.

Among the films that cannot be missed within the Nuevo Horizonte section -whose objective is to screen the films of the filmmakers who make first films, second and even third films- stand out Splintersby Natalia Garayalde; He showed, by José Pablo Escamilla -winner at the Locarno International Film Festival- and Short vacationsby Kwon Min-pyo and Seo Hansol.

He showed (2021)

Another must-see tape is The Works and Days (from Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin), a full-length film that focuses on the life and daily life of a community of no more than 46 people on the slopes of some mountains near the city of Kyoto. The film won in the novel Encounters section of the Berlinale 2020.

Here you know all the sections of Black Canvas 2021 (includes title, trailer and synopsis of each film).


Black Canvas 2021 will dedicate a series of retrospectives to various national and international filmmakers. Among them the Latvian director Laila Pakalnina whose artistic work has been present since this festival was born and which, now, will host a total of 28 films by the filmmaker, including her latest work In the mirror (2020). “It seems to me that she is one of the most important filmmakers from the Baltic countries in recent years. A generous filmmaker who has taken on the task of making a cinematographic record of everyday life. I think we have to get closer to Laila Pakalnina’s cinema because it is a sensitive and very intimate cinema through the observation process ”, Claudio Zilleruelo told us.

There will also be a retrospective on the film work of the Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who can we enjoy Passion (2008); Happy hour (2015) and The wheel of fortune and fantasy (2021), winner of the 2021 Berlinale Special Jury Grand Prize.

The wheel of fortune and fantasy (2021)

Hybrid format to decentralize cinema

As a consequence of the global pandemic, several film festivals in Mexico had to resist and adapt to survive. Black Canvas was no exception and adopted the format on-line, but without leaving their headquarters. “For us, presenting the festival in a hybrid format has been very fortuitous because the festival has never stopped presenting itself, during 2020 and 2021, in a physical version, although it did with a very large audience reduction”, Claudio Zilleruelo tells us. The current panorama seems to behave in a more benevolent way and that is why they hope that the 2021 edition will allow the physical projections to have a capacity of 70%.

The pandemic also redirected Black Canvas to other display alternatives beyond the physical borders of Mexico City. The platform streaming FilminLatino will host around 100 unpublished films -which have not gone through other film festivals in Mexico-, which means almost 70% of the festival’s total programming. “FilminLatino became a space that allows us decentralize cinema that is projected or promoted in Mexico City to become a festival with national characteristics ”.

“It generates us a lot of joy because This cinema is not a difficult cinema to see, it is a difficult cinema to access and that is a big difference. It is something that many times it is stigmatized and it is thought that avant-garde cinema or radical cinema is difficult to see or understand and rather what is difficult: to access it because it is not something regular or everyday. In the end what this cinema does [de Black Canvas] it is to face other narrative possibilities. It is facing ourselves through otherness ”, Zilleruelo reflects.

Looking ahead to 2022, Claudio Zilleruelo believes that Black Canvas will have to fight and keep its physical version standing because of something they are convinced: “many of these films are made to be seen in a large screen format”. However, it does not rule out the possibility of opening more free and open-air spaces to generate community, debate and reflection on contemporary cinema.

Commitment to discover emerging filmmakers

Black Canvas not only calls itself one of the “most radical and purposeful festivals in the country,” but is conscious of accommodating first-time filmmakers and tracking established directors who once made their mark on festival screens. In this sense, for 5 years, they have proposed to break generational gaps and understand that perhaps only time is the only difference between emerging filmmakers and established filmmakers who have contributed to the festival.

“All these great filmmakers or those we consider film masters, at some point were also young. At some point they started from a point to start doing these explorations of images and sounds; find their interests and, from there, make a certain cinema that makes them these great filmmakers of the world. I think the difference only exists in time. In the end, it does not matter if he is a consecrated filmmaker or an emerging filmmaker: he is a human being who has searches, concerns that continue to define a path regardless of whether they have an extensive filmography or have a first exploration with a 5-minute short film. That path keeps changing according to how directors look at the world to define themselves as creators in a movie. [s] that shapes sensations ”, reflects Zilleruelo.

Claudio Zilleruelo Acra Black Canvas 2021
Claudio Zilleruelo Acra, artistic director and programmer of Black Canvas

An opportunity to experience the cinema

Despite the cinematographic decentralization that the festival currently proclaims, Claudio Zilleruelo knows that there is still a long way to go for Black Canvas to expand its audience and for this he invites the public who wants to explore his cinephilia beyond commercial cinema to know Black Canvas because the cinema is not intellectualized, but rather it is lived and felt.

“I would tell them to take the risk of going in to see any of the Black Canvas movies. Like life itself, it is about taking risks and, in this case, taking the risk of going to the cinema to see a movie that will surely remain in the depths of our perceptions and our senses without trying to intellectualize what we are seeing. I think that cinema is not intellectualized, cinema is lived and perceived as a living and empathetic activity with what we are seeing ”.

For more information visit the Black Canvas official page or enter the next link. And here we provide the hand program with the programming on-line.

The entry Black Canvas 2021: Decentralize and live contemporary cinema was first published in Cinema PREMIERE.


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