USA / Mexico, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)
Director: Lourdes Portillo
It all begins when Luli's favourite uncle Oscar dies under mysterious circumstances in Mexico. Luli, aka writer-director Lourdes Portillo heads south in search of some answers. What we get is a 'documystery', an ever-so-slightly fictionalised account of a death in the family.
Under the kindly eye of St Rita, the patron saint of Chihuahua-"not to mention unhappy marriages, boils and desperate causes"-Tia Oscar had prospered. His rise from labourer to mayor was neither swift nor uneventful. It is little wonder that Oscar's sudden demise was surrounded by gossip and scandal. Found facedown outside the gymnasium with a gunshot wound to the head, Oscar's death is variously attributed to lethal doses of class envy, sexual indiscretions (of all manners), bad business dealings, and most simply cancer.
Portillo's hand-held camera is a willing assistant in her unsteady search for truth. Together they confront family members, business associates and friends constructing the image of a man that is both part bricolage and part mortar. In a country "where history is followed like melodrama", where the intricacies of a telenovella can bewitch the nation, there is a faith in visions that Portillo herself succumbs to. Even Luli's reflective glasses tell a story or two. And that's the point-in the end there are no singular answers to the mysteries of life (or deathj-just half-grasped truths and those tantalising suggestions.