100 Ways to Cross the Border, the debut feature documentary by artist, filmmaker, and educator Amber Bemak (Two Sons and a River of Blood, Goodbye Fantasy, Borderhole), is set to have its world premiere at the 2022 edition of BAMcinemaFest.
A daring and self-reflexive exploration of the extraordinary Mexican/Chicanx performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his troupe La Pocha Nostra’s decades-spanning career of radical artistic practice and work in “queering the border,” 100 Ways to Cross the Border will premiere on Saturday, June 25 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, New York.
Written by Bemak in collaboration with Gómez-Peña and edited by Argentine editor Miguel Schverdfinger (Zama, Birds of Passage), 100 Ways to Cross the Border is a performative non-fiction that challenges and experiments with the act of documentary filmmaking in order to root Gómez-Peña’s work in a self-referential logic. At a time when the mainstream media is filled with stories about the US–Mexico border, the film presents the work and philosophical frameworks of an artist with a sustained dedication to highly impactful, innovative artistic interventions on that border. Featuring exclusive footage from his personal archive, Gómez-Peña enacts his artistic interventions by reclaiming and “queering the border” as a laboratory for utopian ideas and artistic experimentation.
Born in Mexico City, Gómez-Peña is a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue and artistic director of the performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. He moved to the United States in 1978, and since 1995 has lived between San Francisco, Mexico City and the “road.” His performance work and twenty-one books have contributed to contemporary artistic and scholarly debates on cultural, generational, and gender diversity, border culture and North-South relations. His performance work has been presented at over one thousand venues across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Russia, South Africa and Australia.
Founded in 1993 in Los Angeles, La Pocha Nostra is Gómez-Peña’s ultimate and most long-standing project. As a transdisciplinary arts organization, La Pocha Nostra is devoted to erasing the borders between art and politics, art practice and theory, and artist and spectator. For over 25 years, LPN has intensely focused on the notion of collaboration across national borders, race, gender and generations as an act of radical citizen diplomacy and as a means to create “ephemeral communities” of rebel artists. La Pocha Nostra’s performance work mixes experimental aesthetics, activist politics, Spanglish humor and audience participation to create a “total experience” for both live and online audience member/reader/viewer.
Continually developing multi-centric narratives and large-scale performance projects from a border perspective, Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra create what critics have termed “Chicano cyber-punk performances,” and “ethno-techno art.” With intimate access to the artist and his troupe, 100 Ways to Cross the Border documents in full color the impact of Gómez-Peña’s work and his multilayered contributions to conversations on Latinx and Chicanx identity, politics, and border theory.