This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

Tribeca ’08: Trisha Ziff on “Chevolution”

Posted by on

04252008_chevolution1.jpgBy Stephen Saito

[For complete coverage of the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, check out IFC’s Tribeca page.]

Che Guevara probably never envisioned his image on a crystal-encrusted T-shirt as he traversed the Cuban countryside with thoughts of political upheaval. But there’s the rub of featuring front and center in the most reproduced photograph of the 20th century.

“Che died, but thousands of Ches were born,” remarks Diana Diaz during “Chevolution,” a documentary making its world premiere in the Encounters section of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Diaz is the daughter of Alberto “Korda” Diaz, a Cuban photographer who took the iconic shot of the revolutionary that originally went unused by the newspaper it was commissioned for and existed only as a print on Korda’s wall. It wasn’t until after Guevara’s death in 1968 that the image called “Guerrillero Heroico” found its way into his memorial service and became the inspiration for protests and pop art the world over. For the past three years, Trisha Ziff has been collecting Che items from around the globe and putting them into a wildly popular exhibition that’s still touring. With the help of “Election” producer Ron Yerxa and co-director Luis Lopez, Ziff decided to turn the exhibit into a film, which serves as a fascinating history of a single snapshot that became the legacy of two men — Guevara and Korda.

How did “Chevolution” come about?

I knew Alberto Korda here in Mexico — when he died, all the obituaries only mentioned this image. They only talked about “Guerillo Heroico.” I thought how strange for somebody to live such a huge and full life as an artist and be remembered for a single image, and what that must do to a person. I had the idea to put together an exhibition with the idea that I would assemble as many different versions of that image that artists have done, that have been done in the history of posters, that are quoted in other photographs and objects, and do an exhibition that was just about the narrative of a single image. It was a real challenge to me — you get your audience into a museum and they’re essentially walking around looking at different versions of the same image again and again in different contexts. Can you sustain somebody’s interest in that for a long period of time as a storyteller? My personal fear was “Oh my God, am I just making a slideshow that’s 90 minutes long?” You can tell it’s a film made by a curator. [laughs]

I found things that just blew my mind and I had to find a way to put them in, and [co-director] Luis Lopez was able to transform that through his graphics. The scholarship and the narrative and the imagery comes from me and I think the pace, the energy, the modernity of it as a documentary comes from him.

04252008_chevolution2.jpg How much of the story did you know beforehand and how much of this was a treasure hunt?

Because I’ve written a book on the subject and done an exhibition, the foundations were there, and because I’m a curator of photography, I have a history of working with photographers, especially in Latin America. I’ve worked with a website called Zone Zero in Mexico, the most visited website of photography in the world, so I put a small ad on Zone Zero for people who’d taken [photographs involving] the Che image. We got pictures back from all over the world. It wasn’t a treasure hunt — t was waiting for the treasure to come in. Finding Tom Morello was a treasure hunt. (laughs) That was hard.

Harder than Gerry Adams [who also appears in the film, along with Gael Garcia Bernal and Antonio Banderas]?

[Adams] is very cultured and that comes from the mural tradition in the north of Ireland. What we wanted to film and didn’t, for a good reason in the end, was on the 40th anniversary of the death of Che, they painted a mural in Derry in the west coast of Ireland. We were all set to go and film this community painting the mural, then they chose to do it with a different image, not the Korda image, so that went out the window. But Gerry knew Jim Fitzpatrick [one of the artists most responsible for proliferating Korda’s Che image]. I thought that was amazing, but he’s a very rounded, well-read, curious person, so it’s not surprising. Few politicians talk, obviously, about art. The crossover’s not there. I wish more did.

How receptive was the Diaz (Korda) family to a film?

Diana Diaz and the estate are represented in Los Angeles by a gallerist called Daryl Couturier, who represents a lot of Cuban artists and he’s very trusted in Cuba and I think a combination of Daryl being there through this film as the voice of the family because they obviously couldn’t have come to the States and left Cuba now because of the embargo.

There’s a history of trust because Diana Diaz knew me, she knew my work on other exhibitions and I live in Mexico. We’ve had consistent dialogue over five or six years. That’s not to say she’s liked everything that I’ve done. She is, which I value immensely, very respectful of a vision that isn’t necessarily her own of her father’s image, and I put images into the show that she really doesn’t like. It’s hard for her to see [something] that she feels disrespects the history of that image, either taken to a place of humor or maybe used in a sexual way. She is appalled by those things and it’s a stretch for her to feel comfortable allowing me to do my work, so it’s a complex relationship but it’s based on a lot of discussion and.

04252008_chevolution3.jpgIt may be purely coincidental, but the timing of this precludes Steven Soderbergh’s Che biopics — is there something about right now that lends itself for reflection about Che?

I think it’s totally relevant. It’s a Che wave, no? I think it comes back to another question, which is why do we need heroes? What is it that’s so appealing that we’re seduced into hearing the story again and again in all these different versions, or to wear it as a t-shirt, or to have a poster on our wall? There’s something very seductive about him, or the fiction of him, and I think it’s because we live in a time where people are lost, where there is no leadership, where life isn’t about making choices because you believe in them.

I think we live in a diminished moment, from that point of view, where there isn’t the idealism that existed in the ’60s — people really had this notion that they could make changes. We’ve lost something, so whether it’s that we revisit him in a real way or it’s this sentimentality of revisiting something that gave people hope at a certain time, I think there’s a seduction. We need leadership. Within that image is this desire, this hope, and it doesn’t go away.

Finally, out of all the Che items you’ve accumulated, which is your favorite?

I have Che matryoshka dolls from Russia and I love them because they’re different iconic photographs of Che — there’s obviously the Korda Che, but then there’s the René Burri Che — he took the very famous one of Che smiling with a cigar. Then inside that, there’s a Che, a Christo — Che as Christ. And then you go right to the little tiny matryoshka doll in the center and it’s just a candle. It’s just an image of light, an image of hope. So I love those. I bought them on eBay. I think, as a curator, eBay is brilliant because you can search and get extraordinary artifacts. I have a fantastic packet of cigarettes from Barcelona where the Che image on the package is so distorted, such a bad version that’s it’s brilliant. It’s hilarious. And people bring me stuff all the time. I mean, I’m kind of Che’d out.

[Photos: “Chevolution,” Red Envelope Entertainment, 2008]

IFC_Portlandia-S8_best-of-skits_subaru-blog

Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

IFC_Portlandia-S8_pick-a-lane_subaru-blog

Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…