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What You're Mission 

A series of independent films by Latina and Latino auteurs

Wednesday, Oct 27 2004
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Sergio de la Mora is nothing if not a diplomat. Addressing the issue of gentrification in the Mission District, the curator and assistant professor of Chicano/a studies at UC Davis is amazingly fair. "Historically, the waves of arrivals in the Mission ... have changed and exerted a new power on the people who were there," he says, choosing his words carefully. "I'm not sure the filmmakers would say that the new residents in the Mission are a new colonizing force, but I would add that it fits a pattern of the Mission being a place for new settlers." We're having a conversation about the film program de la Mora presents Friday night, "Remember the Mission," a series of independent movies by Latina and Latino auteurs who hail from San Francisco's famously contested neighborhood. Questions about who belongs there and who might be invading are unavoidable.

But while de la Mora is politic in describing the complicated present, he's unrestrained about the pictures themselves. "I really love Al Hernandez's That Mission Rising. It's a hypnotic meditation on the native [Ohlone] spirits coming back to reclaim their territory. It has some really incredible editing: The rhythm of the film is really something else." Veronica Majano's Two Four elicits praise as well for its use of old footage of 24th Street during the 1980s. But describing the research Majano did for her film leads de la Mora to the other major theme of the series -- and one of its surprising troubles.

"It's an effort to find visual traces of the Latino Mission," de la Mora says of the project's focus. Far from finding the smorgasbord of source material one might expect, Majano was often stymied. "In Veronica's work, she's found it difficult to find images of Latinos in archival footage," de la Mora says, adding that such images are probably out there, but in private homes rather than in libraries or other public collections. Sounds like a job for a diplomat.

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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