AGAINST THE GRAIN: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Perú Screening – Wednesday, April 22, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College

April 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm 9 comments


In person: Ann Kaneko (Director)

In 1989, Alfredo Márquez used an image of Mao in an artwork. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. For every artist, the need to create and be heard is as basic as food and shelter. But what happens when you live in a country where the state clamps down on free thinkers, forcing artists to censure themselves? Four Peruvian visual artists, including Márquez, defy this tyranny through their work and ignite change, challenging ordinary people to speak out. These struggles and commitments raise the question: Is freedom of expression a right or a privilege?

Spanning two decades of corrupt governments and inept leaders, this film tells the story of four inspiring artists: Claudio Jiménez Quispe flees his home in Ayacucho because of insurgency with the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group. He chronicles this violence in his retablos, traditional wooden display boxes. Alfredo Márquez, active in the 1980s underground punk scene, produces bold, political images despite four years of unjust imprisonment. With the downfall of former president Alberto Fujimori, critics targeted Japanese Peruvians like Eduardo Tokeshi, yet he reaffirms his identity through a series of red and white Peruvian flags. Natalia Iguíñiz provokes the Catholic Church and the socially conservative middle class with controversial images that challenge gender and class. Each artist teaches us what it means to persevere and make art in a country like Perú.

Highlighting amazing contemporary Peruvian artwork, this film combines gritty Super 8 with raw verité footage.  It also features music by iconic Peruvian bands, Leusemia and Uchpa, and Los Angeles indie rockers, Pilar Díaz and David Green, of los abandoned.


For more information on the film, or to see the trailer, go to the Against The Grain blog

Posted by Ming-Yuen S. Ma

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown CHANTS OF LOTUS / PEREMPUAN PUNYA CERITA Screening – Wednesday, April 29, 7pm, Broad Hall 210, Pitzer College; Pizza Party at 6:30pm

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. asianamericansinmedia  |  April 21, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    How did you find and choose subjects for this film?

    How were your interactions with the characters in this film different from the interactions you made with the subjects in Overstay?

    What is your next project?

    What is the situation in Peru like today?


  • 2. rylee Rubalcava  |  April 22, 2009 at 2:41 am

    -You said that you originally cam to Peru with the intent of making a documentary similar to “Roger and Me,” but you ended up doing something completely different by chronicling the struggles and messages of these artists. Do you feel like this happens often when you have an idea for a film?
    -Given the unstable political climate of Peru, were you ever worried that you were in danger while filming this documentary?
    -Where all of the artists in your film enthusiastic about having a documentary made about them, or were some of them hesitant?

  • 3. Tommy Meyer  |  April 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    1. What impact did these people’s stories have on you personally?

    2. Why was/is it so difficult to make art like this in a country like Peru? Is it simply because of the country’s political regime?

    3. What kinds of problems to Japanese-Peruvians face in Peru?

    4. Why did you specifially choose Peru to focus on and not some other oppressed area?

    – Tommy

  • 4. Brandon Sze  |  April 22, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Being a Japanese American, what made you interested in making a film in Peru?

    Did being a Japanese American filmmaker affected the way you made this film in any way? Did you feel an connection between the many Japanese Peruvian? How did you feel about president Fujimori?

    Before going to Peru, you said you intended to make a totally different film. What made you change your mind into filming Against the Grain?

    What is your stance on freedom of expression? Should there ever be a limit? Why or why not?

  • 5. Matthew Park  |  April 22, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    DId you find yourself relating to Tokeshi on some level compared to the other artists because of your shared Japanese culture?

    Did your film itself receive much oppression or “claming down?”

    Are these four artists unique, or are such artists commonplace throughout Peru?

  • 6. Steven Pankratz  |  April 22, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    1. Regarding art and censorship,are there contemporary examples from other communist regimes that might tell the same story?

    2. Often, documentaries change focus as more data is collected. How did the film evolve as it was being produced?

    3. If you could redo the entire process, would you? How so, and why?

    By Steven Pankratz

  • 7. Bailey Busch  |  April 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Do you consider art as a forum where issues can be exposed that otherwise are not publicly up for conversation. If so, why can art function in this way?

    Do you think your work occupies a part of history as opposed to just documenting it?

    Why did documentary film making become your means of expression?

    What do “diaspora communities” mean to you? What is their significance within your work/philosophy?

  • 8. Fred Chang  |  April 23, 2009 at 12:46 am

    What did you hope to accomplish with your film?

    How has the release of the film changed the view of Japanese Peruvians in Peru? Has it changed at all?

    How did your original film idea influence the outcome of Against The Grain?

    Can you describe what your current project is about? (It was mentioned in the Audrey article as race and diversity in the “post Obama-era”

  • 9. Liana Engie  |  April 23, 2009 at 1:03 am

    1. You say “When you’re living in a country that’s dysfunctional, as an artist, you have a responsibility to say something or do something about it”. What would you define as “dysfunctional”? Don’t most countries have some aspect of dysfunctionality?

    2. Why is there such a large japanese community in Peru and Brazil?

    Also, randomly, Fujimori is quite the character.


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