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Archive for August, 2011

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Javier Batiz, the great Mexican rock-and-roll guitarist, played and sang last week in a concert that embodied and gave voice to everything that is most wonderful about Tijuana and the U.S.-Mexico border region. Batiz who since he was thirteen played in the bars and nightclubs of Tijuana, performed this time with the Baja California Orchestra (OBC) before a sell-out crowd of 1,100 in the auditorium of Tijuana’s Center of Musical Arts in a concert that sometimes contrasted, sometimes juxtaposed and occasionally synthesized the styles of blues, rock, jazz and classical music. This is the Tijuana that most Americans don’t know, the border—where I grew up—that represents not a political wall that divides peoples and cultures, but two-way cultural bridge that unites them.

Batiz’s concert exemplified the bicultural world of the border—or perhaps better tricultural for in addition to the Mexican and the American, the border has its own culture as well. Batiz performed favorites from his repertoire of blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, song both by others and of his own composition, from the traditional “House of the Rising Sun” (the Spanish version), to Otis Redding and Jerry Butler’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” to his own “Montañas.” Listening to Batiz run up and down the neck his electric guitar with the greatest virtuosity one could hear echoes of Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King, but also infusing it all Batiz’s own highly personal and passionate style.

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The 15th annual Lima Film Festival drew to an end last Saturday with a dark horse candidate drawing top honors. The Mexican film “El Premio” (The Prize) by first time writer-director, the Argentinean-born Paula Markovitch, took Best Picture and $5,000.

El Premio chronicles a Mexican family’s struggle to survive repression in Argentina during the military dictatorship of the late 70s and early 80s. Based on Markovitch’s own childhood memories, the story is told from the point of view of 7-year-old Ceci, who knows that she must keep her family’s secret without fully understanding what that secret is. While she tries her best to remain dutifully silent, an essay she writes unknowingly criticizing the Argentine army puts her family in danger.

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Pedro Coronel’s work is characterized by the colors of pre-Hispanic cultures and a reclaiming of their shapes and motifs. His sculptures are mostly simplistic in form.

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