Seguir Siendo:Cafe Tacvba — @SFLatinoFilmFestival

16 09 2011

It was a honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to view and review Seguir Siendo: Cafe Tacvba, which is the opening night film at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival. As you may or may not remember, I’ve been covering a Latino film festival in some capacity for three years now, and when I saw this movie was going to be playing, despite having ZERO time, I knew I had to be involved in some way. The SFLFF is going to be great, and this documentary on one of the best BANDS, Rock en Español or otherwise, is a great way to kick things off. Here’s the page we ran in the Daily Journal … the review in its entirety is below.

A WINDOW INTO THE MYSTERY
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff 

In a time when everyone knows everything about their favorite band, there is something refreshing about being clueless.

Think about the best music documentaries of all-time — “Gimme Shelter,” “Don’t Look Back” or “The Decline” for example — the thing they have in common is that before the day and age of reality television, paparazzi, etc. these films made you feel like an iconic artist just handed you a piece of candy, or you just experienced your first kiss all over again. There was a bit of magic there.

It’s a shame that the age we live in hampers our ability to truly enjoy a music documentary. Now more than ever before, for a band to pull off a quality film is rare.

But “Seguir Siendo: Cafe Tacvba,” the opening night film at the San Francisco Latino Film festival, which begins tonight, proves that music documentaries can indeed be great. In a genre that has become formulaic, “Seguir Siendo” does what a music documentary should do: It reignites a passion for a band with a beloved history.

It’s actually a shame you probably don’t know who Cafe Tacvba is. To put that into perspective, it’s like not knowing who U2 is, Radiohead or The Beatles. Any conversation about Latin American rock, or even music, starts with Cafe Tacvba. In their 22 years as a band, no group has left a more lasting impact on Latin America than the quartet from Mexico.

In “Seguir Siendo” fans (and non-fans) get their first real extended look at the band; their rise in popularity throughout the world and a glimpse into the creative process of a rare kind of genius, four-headed music monster.

As a ride-along kind of documentary, directors Ernesto Contreras and José Manuel Cravioto do a terrific job of pulling old footage from the 1989 beginnings of Cafe Tacvba and fusing with their travels today. We go everywhere with the band, from Mexico, to Spain, to Chile and an entertaining stop in Japan which featured a performance in front of Princess Hitachi. We go throughout the United States, with stops in Utah, Anaheim and a couple of familiar places here in the Bay Area.

But throughout the 80 minutes, our glimpses into the past and the present don’t ever seemed forced. There’s a nostalgic feel throughout, almost as if Cafe Tacvba knows that their fans have longed to be let in “behind the scenes.” Ruben, Meme, Joselo and Quique, the Cafe Tacvba members, are all characters in their own right, and in the film, they’re forced to sit as individuals and to tell their stories and talk about their struggles as such. The band says that their goal was to give the audience a more intimate view, and in that sense they succeeded.

All this seems pretty cliché for a music documentary — technically, any old band can pull this kind of stuff off, right?

Yes, but for a music documentary to be great, like “Seguir Siendo” is, there has to be something interesting, intriguing and compelling about, the music. There has to be something mysterious about how it has always made you feel. For a music documentary to be great this intrigue cannot revolve around the band members, especially today when everyone has to be a character, everyone plays for the camera, there is little “genuine” or real about it.

But the nuances and attractions that revolve around the music (and then by extension, the band) cannot be faked. And that is why “Seguir Siendo” works.

For all their greatness, Cafe Tacvba and their music has always had a mysterious aura around it. And “Seguir Siendo” is a window into that mystery. The film doesn’t answer the questions fans have had over time — but that’s the point. A documentary shouldn’t necessarily give you everything. As Joselo, the bass player said, “we’ve figured out over time what is extra, and have stripped it down to the essential.” This is true of their music and of this documentary. Cafe Tacvba’s music has carried them for 20-plus years, and it does the same in this film. And in time where everyone knows everything about their favorite band, that actuality is what a great music documentary should be all about.

The San Francisco Latino Film Festival starts today and runs through Sept. 25, with 30 films shown throughout the Bay Area. For more information on all the films playing at the SFLFF visit http://www.sflatinofilmfestival.com.

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