Film Series / Events

Browse All Film Series

March 3 – March 4, 2019

Ethnofictions by Laura Huertas Millán

The films of French-Colombian Laura Huertas Millán (b. 1983) challenge and expand traditions of ethnographic and anthropological cinema as they explore a range of subjects both grounded in a particular time and place and floating in a kind of imaginary. From the vainglorious Dynasty (the US TV series) inspired dreams of a vanquished drug lord in El Laberinto to the patient work of Mexican weavers in La Libertad and the crippling depression suffered by her own aunt in Sol Negro, Millán’s films search for ways to contextualize and critique while also empathetically evoking the texture, grit and strange magic of these subjects’ lived experience. Drawing inspiration from such filmmakers as Chick Strand and Trinh T. Minh-ha, Millán carefully asserts her own perspective and voice as an artist, as if to subvert any claim to objectivity still lingering around documentary cinema as a pursuit and mythos. And like both Strand and Minh-ha, Millán’s films steadily offer pointed yet poetically shaped critiques of the imperialist and colonialist gaze and its legacy. Also grounding Millán’s cinema is her interest in a kind of “ethnofiction” that follows the threads of stories—be they narrative fiction, songs or myths—as they intertwine and shape the reality of the different truths. During her time at the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard, Millán created some of her most arresting work—films such as La Libertad and her powerful Sol Negro that seize the charge of the SEL to embrace the sensorium, and even emotions themselves, as vital forms of knowledge and experience.

On the occasion of her first screening at the Harvard Film Archive, Laura Huertas Millán has curated a program of ethnofiction including classic films by Chick Strand and Tracey Moffat plus newer works by artists Cauleen Smith and filmmakers Malena Slzam and Lina Rodriguez. The HFA is pleased to welcome Millán, who will also be joined in a conversation about her own work with Cecilia Barrionuevo, director of the Mar Del Plata Film Festival. – Haden Guest

Film descriptions by Haden Guest and Laura Huertas Millán.

Special thanks: Peter Galison, Julie Mallozzi, Cozette Russell—Film Study Center, Harvard; Paola Ibarra Deschamps—David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard; Edda Manriquez and May Haduong—Academy Film Archive; Adam Hyman and Jesse Lerner—LA Filmforum.





$12 Special Event Tickets
Laura Huertas Millán in Person

Sunday March 3 at 7pm

Acts of Seeing, Acts of Freeing

“The West always makes me deal with land and space.”

The Americas have been a subject of fascination and an expansion of the anthropological gaze since the first European travelers described the landscapes and natives of the so-called “New World” for an occidental audience. The archetypes created in these first accounts had enduring consequences on the imaginaries and geopolitics of the centuries to come. The films of this series challenge the narratives of “first contact” and its myths, fostering questions about occupation and ownership of the lands and the construction of hybrid and complex identities. In these forms of reversed ethnography, landscape and memory intertwine, giving form to short statements, manifestos, and fictions dealing with a present haunted by the reminiscences of the past.

In some of the films, official history and its monuments are carnivalized and dismembered—becoming raw material for pastiches and détournements. A few focus on the emergence of cross-cultural subjectivities while registering the gesture of seeing a territory. Others evoke historical traumas embedded on the territories, and the films become archaeological and political spaces where concealed histories and violence can be unearthed. – LHM

Cowboy and “Indian” Film

Directed by Raphael Montañez Ortiz
US 1957-58, digital video, b/w, 2 min


Artificial Paradise

Directed by Chick Strand
US/Mexico 1986, 16mm, color, 12 min

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive and the Pacific Film Archive with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation.


Night Cries, A Rural Tragedy

Print courtesy the Academy Film Archive.

Directed by Tracey Moffatt. With Marcia Langton, Agnes Hardwick, Jimmy Little
Australia 1989, 16mm, color, 19 min


El Laberinto (The Labyrinth)

DCP courtesy the filmmaker.

Directed by Laura Huertas Millán
Colombia/France 2018, DCP, color, 21 min. Spanish with English subtitles



Print courtesy the filmmaker.

Directed by Lina Rodriguez
Canada 2010, 35mm, color, 2.5 min



Print courtesy the filmmaker.

Directed by Malena Slzam
Canada/Chile/Argentina 2018, 35mm, color, 16 min



DCP courtesy the filmmakers.

Directed by Colectivo Los Ingrávidos
Mexico 2016, DCP, color, 10 min


Three Songs About Liberation

DCP courtesy the filmmaker.

Directed by Cauleen Smith
US 2018, DCP, color, 10 min


Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

$12 Special Event Tickets
Laura Huertas Millán in Conversation with Cecilia Barrionuevo

Monday March 4 at 7pm

Millán explores three different possibilities of the portrait film, ranging from La Libertad’s communal and choral vision of Mexican weavers to jeny303’s first-person account of drug addiction, to Sol Negro’s multi-voiced composite exploration of a woman’s depression and the rippling effects felt by her concerned family. In all three, Millán searches for a kind of intimate understanding of her subjects while acknowledging the constructed nature of her, and of all, cinema.

All DCPs courtesy the filmmaker.

La Libertad

Directed by Laura Huertas Millán
Colombia/France 2017, DCP, color, 29 min. Spanish with English subtitles



Directed by Laura Huertas Millán
Colombia/France 2018, DCP, color, 6 min. Spanish with English subtitles


Sol Negro (Black Sun)

Directed by Laura Huertas Millán
Colombia/France 2016, DCP, color, 43 min. Spanish with English subtitles




Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top