The Mexican Suitcase
- 29th Oct 2012
The Mexican Suitcase
“Brilliant,” “stunning,” and “fascinating,” Trisha Ziff’s documentary film, The Mexican Suitcase has been hailed by critics and festivals worldwide as a “must-see.” This month, the film is screening in London and across the UK with Director Trisha Ziff present.
The Mexican Suitcase tells the story of the 4,500 negatives of the Spanish Civil War recovered by the film’s director 70 years later in a closet in Mexico City. The film looks at the journey of these negatives – taken by renowned photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David ‘Chim’ Seymour – from the war in Spain, to the exile to France, and to Mexico, where they remained safe and hidden for more than half a century. The combined work of these war photographers is heeded as some of the Spanish Civil War’s most important visual documentation. Thought to have been lost, Ziff’s film traces the history of these three recovered boxes and sheds new light on the histories of both Spain and Mexico.
Ziff’s narrative does not only reveal these lost photographs; The Mexican Suitcase draws in a broader range of memories and questions surrounding the war and its affects in both Spain and Mexico. She revisits Spain’s legacy as well as Spanish exiles in Mexico to understand their relationship with Spain today and the memories that live on in these photographs and new generations.
“The first time I saw the negatives, I understood the story needed to be told,” Ziff says. “It is close to my own heart as well.”
Ziff’s son is a first generation Mexican born to a Spanish exile. She says the film illuminates the role Mexico played in welcoming wartime refugees to settle within its borders. The Mexican Suitcase touches on the personal and intimate stories of those who fled during the war. These themes are not restricted to the Spanish Civil War alone; those of identity, exile, loss and closure are universal.
“I was impacted by how even today 70 years after the war how these haunting memories of repression, dictatorship impact life in contemporary Spain,” Ziff says. The Mexican Suitcase examines how this exile still defines the identities of Mexican youth and what thirty years of fascism means to the Spanish people.
Ziff will be screening her film Monday 5th November at 19:00 at the Frontline Club and Tuesday 6th November at 18.20 at the Curzon Soho. Other screenings in the UK include 18th November at the Bath Film Festival.