Monday, May 03, 2010

"The Lost Reels of Pancho Villa"

The Vietnam conflict has been called the first television war, beaming visions of battlefield carnage directly into America's living rooms. But the first cinematic war likely was the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920, a multiphased, internecine conflict that left at least 1 million people dead. And its biggest "star" was Pancho Villa, the daring, strategically brilliant leader of the guerrilla army that helped seize control of the country's northern and border territories for the rebels.

The curious symbiosis between the former outlaw-turned-commander and the fledgling U.S. film industry lies at the center of Gregorio Rocha's unconventional, first-person documentary "The Lost Reels of Pancho Villa." The 49-minute film was screened Monday at REDCAT, along with "La vengaza de Pancho Villa" (The Vengeance of Pancho Villa), a black-and-white quasi-documentary made in the 1930s by Edmundo and Felix Padilla, a father-son team of Mexican filmmaker-exhibitors.

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