Venezuelan, Florida based filmmaker Julio Neri will be screening, for the first time in Miami, two anthological rare art/political films at Dot Fiftyone’s Galley Project Room:
“Armada” (1977) and “Electrofrenia” (1978).
In the 1970’s Super 8 Cine became the worldwide New Art filmmaker’s format, as 16 mm, the format of Underground Film as well as the 1950’s and 1960’s avant-garde Film (Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, etc.) had become too expensive and was not accessible to New Film Artists.
Unlike many previous movements and film schools, Super 8 film was growing around the world. From Tehran to Caracas, from Buenos Aires to Toronto, filmmakers traveled all over the world shooting in this format. Either by attending festivals or giving lectures and workshops in other parts of the world is the manner in which this adoption took root and spread globally.
This occurrence is emphasized by the formation of the International Federation of Super 8 Film, of which Neri was its president. Super 8 Film marks the end of cinema as an individual or personal artistic expression through the imminent arrival of the video.
Armada and Electrofrenia represent the few cases of this type of cinema that took on a socio-political position, directed at predominant military dictatorships in southern countries of South America.
Armada (1978), Neri´s first political film, was made at a time in which several Latin American countries –most importantly Argentina and Chile—- had seen a turn towards military dictatorships. Neri questions authoritarian regimes through the narrative of a devoted but free-loving daughter, Armada, and her military father. Armada´s line of argument departs from the militant films made by New Latin American Cinema directors in the 1960’s. Rather than openly opposing the violent and repressive regimes (represented by the father), Armada establishes a complex relationship in which the daughter is divided between the love towards her father and the love towards her freedom. However, Armada´s death at the hands of her violent father clearly condemns the use of violence and is thus a call to action against repressive regimes. As many Super 8 films of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Armada has a synchronized sound track rather than diegetic sound.
Electofrenia (1979), Neri´s third political film, requires a critical distance in order to consider the reasons why Venezuelans choose their presidential candidate in the 1978 election. Electofrenia, signifying the chaos of the elections, proposes that many Venezuelans select the candidate who benefits them personally rather than the one who is good for the country at large. Not without irony, the film brings up Venezuela´s two decades of peaceful democratic government. If people choose what is good for them, can we call it a democracy?
Julio Neri, born in Venezuela (1947), belongs to the New Latin American Cinema of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and to the Super 8 movement. The New Latin American Cinema aimed at creating cinematic identities for countries under the influence of the Hollywood market. Latin American directors were conscious of their need to come to terms with their countries’ colonial and neocolonial history, as well as the economic and political challenges faced by their countries in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Neri is also known for his role within the international Super 8mm movement. He acted as president of the International Federation of Super 8 Films from 1977 to 1981, and directed the famous, Caracas-based Festival del Nuevo Cine en Super 8 from 1976 to 1982. A prolific filmmaker, Neri made both personal and political films. His political trilogy: Érase Una Vez en Venezuela (1978), Armada (1977) and Electofrenia (1979) was created in the Super 8 format. Érase Una Vez en Venezuela (Once Upon a Time in Venezuela) takes a humoristic look into the predominance of authoritarian regimes in Venezuela´s history from its independence up until 1958.