100 Ways to Cross the Border
"Performance artist, writer, radical pedagogue, public citizen & activist against all borders", this is how the Mexican/Chicano performance artist Guillermo Goméz-Peña presents himself. His works, provocations, and artistic interventions turn ideas upside down and unmask them through this displacement. It is not surprising that art critics came up with terms like "ethno-techno art" or "chicano cyber-punk performances" to describe the performances with which Goméz-Peña and his international artist organization "La Pocha Nostra" have been provoking debates about institutions, identities and all kinds of other borders for 40 years. Amber Bemak was able to experience the shifting of boundaries à la Goméz-Peña first-hand. This becomes immediately tangible in her intrepid, performative documentary, in which she herself acts on both sides of the camera. Through a mix of exclusive archival material, interviews, manifestos, and performance scenes, Bemak delivers an immersive portrait that, at times, resembles a duel. Even from the dubious safety of the cinema chair, one experiences a somewhat unclassifiable force of nature in which sense and nonsense whirl around. The Mexican-American author Luis Alberto Urrea – a "border expert" himself – defines borders as liminal spaces and suggests a political utopia, a dream that he and Goméz-Peña seem to share: "The possibility of our time is to evolve the old melting pot to the 21st-century richness of »us« – with all the mess and necessary humor required." Mess and humor are plentiful in this movie, enough to cross at least a few borders.
Amber Bay Bemak is based in Dallas after having lived in Mexico City and between India and Nepal. She is a filmmaker, artist, and educator whose creative practice is rooted in experimental and documentary film. Bemak often works cinematically and performatively with her own body to represent different symbolic cultural codes and structures of power. Her work has been seen at venues such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, and the Tamayo Museum. Festivals include Oberhausen, BAM cinemafest, BFI London, Ann Arbor, DocLisboa, and Morelia. She has taught film theory and practice in India, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, and the United States. Currently she is working on her second feature length film, "Cosmic Moose and Grizzly Bears Ville", a documentary about her uncle Peter Valentine and his magical house.