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El Retiro's National Film Premier
3 Generations of Women in Atotonilco

Sat. May 28 and Saturday, June 4, 7pm

by Jeffrey R. Sipe

"When I am there, I have no husband, I have no children, I have no brothers or sisters, I have nothing. I just love myself," says one of the three main characters in El Retiro, producer/director Daniela Alatorre's new documentary on three generations of women – grandmother, mother and (grand)daughter – who along with 3,000 other women attend the annual week-long spiritual retreat for women at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, just five miles from San Miguel de Allende.

Compartimento Cinematagrafica's screening series changes location this weekend from Mezcal Art to an al fresco setting at Fabrica la Aurora, where, as part of the film's weekend of national premieres, El Retiro will show at 8pm, Saturday, May 28.

The driving force fueling El Retiro is the bond among these three family members as they struggle to reaffirm their independence in a paternalistic society. Although the road is a hard one to travel, the rewards are voiced clearly by the youngest of the three, granddaughter Perla Avila: "I realized that even though we are three different generations, educated in different ways, what I have always appreciated is the support of my grandmother and my mother who, even though they were raised rigorously, always supported me in my decisions and helped me break the patterns we had. And I am the first granddaughter who is about to finish a university degree."

It took five years for Alatorre to bring this film to life, from researching the religious ceremony, which she attended on several occasions, to understanding the cultural and social worldview of the region.

"In the experience of the retreat," Alatorre explains, "I discovered that the sense of companionship among women is very strong and that sense, in Atotonilco, arises among thousands of women, and it is extremely powerful to put our bodies in the street and feel that strength. And that is important in a place like Atotonilco because it is also a space where there is constant tension with the religious discourse that seeks to maintain the status of the church. And that means preserving gender structures."

Looking incisively into Mexican society has become the trademark of Alatorre's work. She took on the state of Mexican education as a producer with ¡De Panzazo! in 2012. And her last documentary outing as a producer, A Cop Movie, mixes documentary footage with fictional set ups as it examines the vicissitudes of serving on the police force in crime- and corruption-ridden Mexico City.


Saturday, June 4, 7pm

El Retiro, National Premier
Q&A with the Director following the screening

Saturday, May 28, 8pm
In Spanish with English subtitles
Fabrica la Aurora

To screen El Retiro at Fabrica la Aurora, Compartimento Cinematografica is teaming with Ecocinema, a traveling cinema project powered entirely by clean energy.


Jeffrey R. Sipe is a writer/journalist, who, no matter how hard he writes, having grown up in Speedway, Indiana, still can’t get the sounds of race cars rounding Turn 4 out of his head. He has written about the film industry for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Sight and Sound, The Financial Times and other publications. He also once worked as the “boom guy” on a film that nobody saw, but he challenges everyone to see just how long they can hold a metal tube with a microphone attached over their heads.


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