This entry was posted on April 20th, 2019

La cabeza mató a todos, by Beatriz Santiago Mun?oz (2014)

By Ivonne Sheen

Images Festival’s Interior Mythologies program focuses in indigenous ancestral ritualistic practices which remain alive through the wisdom of people, talking about the mystique and forces of natural resources. Smudge series (2013) by Eve-Lauryn LaFountain and La cabeza mató a todos (2014) by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, both follow the process of ritualistic acts within non-fictional sceneries and characters.

Eve-Lauryn LaFountain’s films comprehend three parts in the following order: Indabaabasaan (I smudged it, I Cleanse it), Soda Lake and Boozhoo Jiibayag (Hello Ghosts). All of brief duration, together become a whole journey that begins with a ritual of human agency: the artist cleanses the city from a high point outside of it, a natural scenery which is next but not a part of it. There she seems to stand in the border to redirect the purifying fumes from the natural space to the urban one. Then, in Soda Lake, the camera becomes a dispositive capable to create a communion between earth, water and sky; therefore the ritual now involves the cinematographic technology with a living force in nature. Finally, in Boozhoo Jiibayag (Hello Ghosts), the encounter between the cinematic dispositive and the ritual goes further and becomes more abstract, since LaFountain takes us deeper into its cinematic impulses with a colorful darkness full of joy and mysticism. Jon Almaraz’ compositions for the films are psychedelic experiences which sets us in an hypnotic and peaceful state, which in itself evokes harmony and a harmless approach to powerful forces that exceeds human nature. In Smudge Series, LaFountain inquires about her own Native American heritage (the titles in Ojibwe are an example), and manages to assimilate it into a new experience within the cinematic art form, as a ritualistic mediation.

In the case of Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s film, there is a human and an animal agency (an androgynous character and a cat) both of which share certain ancestral wisdom about natural forces. The  film references are the native practices of Puerto Rico, country from where Santiago Muñoz comes from. There is an explanation with no theoretical sense, since it is the spoken expression of a mythology which has its living example in what the filmmaker portrays and interprets. It makes reference to an origin and the nature of things. The titles refers to a local myth that speaks about a shooting star as a “lost head” which brought chaos and destruction: rationality as a negative force which tries to annihilate the natural order. The film invokes the ancestral knowledge but is located in a contemporary natural scenery, also close to city lights, and what seems to be the intro to the Saicos’ song “Demoler”, becomes the soundtrack of a ritualistic dance. The sound of thunder crashes into us and reminds us that the main force comes from nature, and that cultural changes can’t compare to it. Therefore, the punk melody also evokes a human cathartic movement, but the strongest, most magical power, comes from nature’s inner movement.

With an experimental cinematic experience and narrative, far from descriptive languages but approached to non-fictional sceneries and connected to ancestral mythologies, both authors manage to introduce us to ritualistic practices without explaining them, but inviting us to take part on them, and to leave our heads aside.

Program: Interior Mythologies

Smudge Series
Directora: Eve-Lauryn LaFountain
United States, 2013

La Cabeza Mató a Todos  
Directora: Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
United States, 2014