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The Absent Stone posterLa Piedra Ausente (The Absent Stone)

Showing date and time: September 27, 2013 – 6:30pm

Where: KORET AUDITORIUM, de Young Museum, San Francisco.

General Information:

La Piedra Ausente (The Absent Stone) (Dir: Sandra Rozental and Jesse Lerner, 2012, 80 min., in Spanish with English subtitles), presented in partnership with the SF Latino Film Festival

NOTE: Directors Sandra Rozental and Jesse Lerner will host a question-and-answer session following the film.

Ticket Information: Free tickets are available in front of the Koret Auditorium beginning at 5:30 pm. No advance reservations necessary. Seating begins at 6 pm.

For additional information and updates please go to the web page of the de Young Museum: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/calendar/film-screening-la-piedra-ausente-absent-stone

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The Absent Stone posterThe Absent Stone

A documentary film by Sandra Carla Rozental and Jesse Lerner

35mm, 80 minutes

Showings: Scheduled for 14 cities in Mexico and later in the US.

For photos, trailer, animation and current news (Spanish): The film: La piedra ausente – The Absent Stone

The documentary film The Absent Stone has just been released. It tells the story of the removal of the enormous monolithic stone sculpture of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc in the 1960s from the village of Coatlinchan to adorn the entrance to Mexico’s just completed National Museum of Anthropology and History. The taking of the stone was not without serious village resistance, but with help from the Mexican Army, and large moving rigs, in the end it was hauled to the entrance of the museum where it stands today. The large theater crowd that viewed the film’s first screening a few weeks ago at the Cineteca in Mexico City gave it rave reviews as did the people of Coatlinchan at an outdoor showing in the village. And while it’s been more than 40 years since the stone was taken, the pain of the loss remains. One village woman commented to the filmmakers: “it’s great that you made the film, now can you help us get our stone back.”

Filmmakers Jesse Lerner and Sandra Rozental add–

            In 1964, the largest carved stone of the Americas was moved from the town of San Miguel Coatlinchan in the municipality of Texcoco to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City in an impressive feat of engineering.  The extraction of the monolith, which represents the pre-Hispanic water deity Tlaloc, set off a rebellion in the town and led to the intervention of the army.  Today, the enormous stone, now upright, is an urban monument; it has been transformed into one of the principal icons of Mexican national identity. The inhabitants of Coatlinchan insist that the removal of the stone has caused droughts. Representations and replicas of the absent stone appear in the village and the memories of the inhabitants.  Using animations, archival materials and contemporary encounters with the protagonists of the transport of the stone, this documentary film explores the relevance of the ruins of the past in the present day.”

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Tlaloc monolith at the entrance to Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

THE ABSENT STONE

Documentary Film, 35mm, 80 minutes

By Jesse Lerner and Sandra Carla Rozental

Focusing on the removal and subsequent replications of a colossal pre-Hispanic rain deity taken from a small Mexican town to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, this film explores struggles over heritage and artifacts, contrasting diverse perspectives within the contemporary debate about cultural property and the stewardship of the past.

On April 16th, 1964, a colossal pre-Hispanic stone monolith representing the rain deity Tlaloc was moved from a small town 35 miles east of Mexico City to the new National Museum of Anthropology. The latter has come to be known as the most ambitious Latin American project of national representation of the past century, designed by the renowned modernist architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. At great expense and using state-of-the-art engineering technology, and only be crushing the local’s rebellion against this, the state extracted the monumental stone figure of the rain god from the town of Coatlinchan. The national and international media documented every aspect of the monolith’s transportation to its new abode. Standing at the Museum’s entrance ever since, the stone has become that institution’s most identifiable emblem and, along with the Aztec Calendar stone and the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of Mexico’s best-known national icons.

Projected release date of film: December 2012

Blogger’s note: At long last the story of the forced removal, and subsequent installation of the monumental Tlaloc sculpture at the entrance to the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is told in a full length film. The filmmakers have included a great deal of unique and hard to find historical archival footage of interviews with architect Ramírez Vázquez who designed the museum, and the engineer behind the removal of the Tlaloc stone from Coatlinchan. There is spectacular newsreel footage of the stone as it passes through the Zocalo in Mexico City to the cheers of thousands, but also interviews with townspeople who express their anger and frustration at the loss of their sculpture. Yet over the last 40 years the people of Coatlinchan have not only maintained their cultural continuity, but have seen it flourish in ways one could never have predicted. LGD.

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