Listening to Cumbia

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Date & Time

Tue, Apr 11 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM

Address (map)


Venue (website)

Pollock Theater

This screening will feature two documentaries on cumbia sonidera in Mexico City and Los Angeles: Joyce García’s Yo No Soy Guapo (2018) and the premiere of Alvaro Parra’s “Sonidero Metropolis” (2023).

Yo No Soy Guapo (2018, 81 minutes) is a heartfelt and authentic portrait of Tepito, one of Mexico City’s proudest barrios. In her debut feature-length documentary, Veracruz-based filmmaker Joyce García focuses on cumbia sonidera (sound system cumbia), a record-based dance music scene performed in the street on locally-made sound systems. As the city begins to gentrify, prohibitions on street dances by local government threaten to shut down parties and public gatherings. Yo No Soy Guapo was awarded the Incentive Program for Cinematographic Creators of the Mexican Institute of Cinematography in the “project development” modality in 2015 and won first place in the Guanajuato’s International Film Festival.

“Sonidero Metropolis”  (2023, 22 minutes) is the first episode in Alvaro Parra’s documentary series about Mexican sound system culture. This episode explores the connection between the cumbia epicenter of Puebla, Mexico, and Los Angeles, California, a city where thousands of Poblanos now reside. This film depicts themes of migration, cumbia music, and labor, examined via the lives of two sonideros at opposite ends of their trajectories. Antonio De Jesus, better known as Sonido Fantasma, has been a working sonidero for 31 years. A consummate veteran at the top of his game, he often plays in cities across the U.S. and Mexico. Seventeen-year-old Gardena resident Abimael Amaro, aka Sonido Profeta, played his first show at LA’s Salon Lazaro’s at the age of thirteen. Sonido Profeta is part of a new generation of sonideros that utilizes livestream technology to make a name for themselves in the U.S. and abroad.

Filmmakers Joyce García and Alvaro Parra will join moderator Alexandra Lippman (Pomona College) for a post-screening discussion.


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