By Amin El Gamal
In 1965, immediately before locking himself in his home for 18 months to beat writer’s block and compose One Thousand Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez wrote a movie called Tiempo de morir. Though the film is cited by the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu as an inspiration, and is considered a classic in Mexico, it is nearly impossible to see in the US.
Libros Schmibros hooked me up with a copy in advance of their 50th anniversary screening of the film at the Ford on August 5. Lucky for Ford fans, it’s a gem. Halfway between a taut western and an indie drama, the film is both wildly entertaining and thought-provoking.
The screening will feature a newly restored print and a live Q&A with Márquez’s son and acclaimed filmmaker Rodrigo García.
Though Boyle Heights lending library Libros Schmibros generally focuses on books, founder David Kipen hopes the event will spark an increase in LA outdoor movie offerings of Spanish language films. “Of 150 films screening outdoors in LA this summer, none are in Spanish or subtitled,” David said at the Highland Park coffee shop where we met.
Libros serves as a crossroads of sorts – where Eastsiders and Westsiders often co-mingle and LA’s many cultures collide. David came across Tiempo de morir while researching Jewish Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein, who made his directorial debut with the movie.
“With Libros Schmibros being the Yiddish Mexican joke that got out of hand,” David said, “we thought it would be cool to bring everyone together to watch a terrific movie.”
David is a native Angeleno who—aside from stints reviewing books for the San Francisco Chronicle and five years as the National Endowment for the Arts Literary Director—has lived in various parts of LA most of his life. Libros started in 2010 when David moved into a Boyle Heights storefront and improvised loft and, as he ferried his collection of nearly ten thousand books, decided to open the space to the public.
David sees this recent foray into film as an expansion of Libros’ mission to “increase access to stories” and hopes the event will inspire a full film series in Boyle Heights’ Mariachi Plaza.
“There is a terrific heritage of Mexican film going back 100 years,” David said, “where Latino Americans can see themselves portrayed as something other than banditos or drug dealers. It’s a simple, but powerful thing.”
Come see Tiempo de morir at the Ford on Friday, August 5 at 7:30PM. Go here for tickets and info.