First CineMOLAA of 2011 Features Short Films from YMCA Youth Institute

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cinemolla presents ulama the game of life and deathThe Long Beach Cinematheque returns to the beautiful and Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) for the first CineMOLAA event of 2011. On February 3, audiences will enjoy a full evening of cinema, beginning with a presentation of short films by the talented high school filmmakers of Long Beach’s YMCA Youth Institute, and closing with the 1986 documentary Ulama: El juego de la vida y la muerte (Ulama: The Game of Life and Death).

Meet the Filmmakers from YMCA Youth Institute

The evening starts at 7 p.m. with a very rare opportunity to see short films written, produced, and directed by local high school youth. Film and arts supporters will also get to meet the young filmmakers from the YMCA Youth Institute.

The YMCA Youth Institute is a year-round program that uses technology as an integral mechanism for promoting positive youth development and developing pathways to post secondary education and career readiness of low-income, culturally diverse urban high school youth.  Alumni staff curated the evening’s program of short films which highlight some of the best of the students’ films. The screening begins at 7 p.m., and will run about forty minutes, after which the audience can participate in a Q&A with the student filmmakers. The films will repeat at 8pm and 9pm.

Feature Film: The Game of Life and Death

The CineMOLAA feature film is the acclaimed 1986 documentary Ulama: El juego de la vida y la muerte, winner of five Ariel Awards (Mexico’s prestigious awards for film) – Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Score, and Best First Work.

Directed by Roberto Rochín, this revealing and extensively researched documentary examines the origins and historical significance of ulama, a sport of deeply ritualistic associations played to this day in some regions, that has its roots as a Mesoamerican ballgame played since at least 1,000 B.C. Played with a rubber ball that is volleyed between players by the hip, the aim of ulama was to constantly keep the ball in play, and the stakes of ulama were, in many regions, quite literally life and death – matches would often end with the sacrifice of the losing players, their heads placed in a rack beside the playing field.

Far more than a simple exposé on an ancient sport, Rochín’s documentary is a lyrical and beautifully shot work of art, balancing its study of ancient ritual with images of the game in modern play, celebrated by indigenous populations of lush, sun-kissed regions of Mexico and Central America. As the game’s origin and significance lie heavily in themes of Creation and Fertility, so does the film, taking time to linger on such images as beetles shuffling along and trees swaying in the wind as Rochín explores and honors the traditions of his native land.

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