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David Bowie Curates Latin Film Program

Wednesday, May 9----Ziggy Stardust himself, otherwise known as rocker David Bowie, is the chief curator for the inaugural High Line Festival, a new multi-discipline arts festival that will be curated each year by a different artist. The Festival, which runs from May 9 to 19, is a ten-day mash-up of music, film, comedy, visual art and performance will highlight some of Bowie's favorite artists and films.

The Festival is partly a fundraiser for the renovation of the High Line, one of the most ambitious urban development projects in recent New York history. The High Line is a nearly two mile-long elevated rail structure on Manhattan's West Side that was built in 1930, but has sat unused for over 25 years. When politicans threatened to tear it down in the 1980s, a citizens group formed to preserve the structure for reuse as an elevated public open space. The project has finally taken hold, as the neighborhoods along the High Line (the trendy Meatpacking District and the art enclave Chelsea) have become fashionable places to live, shop and party. Now with siginificant government and private support, the High Line is set to become one of New York's most fascinating "scenes", with the first phase of development expected to be open next summer.

The Festival is a daring mix of dance, music, theater, performance art and repertory cinema. For the film quotient, Bowie had hand-picked ten classic Latin American films from the past 100 years. Co-presented with non-theatrical distributor Cinema Tropical, the series screens at the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village (not quite near the High Line, but not too far away either).

Tonight, the program begins with EL AUTOMOVIL GRIS (The Gray Automobile), a rarely-seen 1919 Mexican crime drama by Enrique Rosas Priego, which is enhanced by the Mexican theater company El Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes. Following the Japanese benshi tradition of silent film narration, the actors artfully render the voices and emotions of each of the film's characters, offer witty repartee and, at times, sing and dance on stage, as well.  

Spirit of the BeehiveSpirit of the BeehiveOther highlights of the series include EL PRISIONERO 13 (1933), the first film in Mexican director Fernando de Fuentes' celebrated trilogy on the Mexican Revolution; AVENTURERA (1949), a lurid “cabaretera” melodrama about a girl from the sticks who is kidnapped by human traffickers; Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s award-winning MEMORIAS DEL SUBDESARROLLO (Memories of Underdevelopment), a classic of Cuban cinema;  Victor Erice’s dark and lyrical 1973 Spanish film about the terrors of childhood, EL ESPIITU DE LA COLMENA (Spirit of the Beehive, 1973); and a rare screening of film master Luis Bunuel’s 1954 English-language, made-in-Mexico ROBINSON CRUSOE, a fascinating adaptation of Daniel Defoe's classic that offers a very personal reinterpretation of the Crusoe metaphor questioning man's relationship with God and morality (and which won Dan O'Herlihy an Oscar nomination in the title role). For more information on the film series and other High Line Festival events, visit their website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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