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Ism, Ism, Ism: Dialogues with Che: Appropriations of a Revolutionary Figure

Ism, Ism, Ism: Dialogues with Che: Appropriations of a Revolutionary Figure

Leandro Katz, El Dia Que Me Quieras (The Day You'll Love Me, 1999)

Los Angeles Filmforum and REDCAT present

Ism, Ism, Ism: Dialogues with Che: Appropriations of a Revolutionary Figure

At REDCAT, 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

In Person: Venezuelan Actor Rolando Peña

Images of Ernesto "Che" Guevara are the most contested and reproduced in Latin America, and this program explores ways this iconic figure has been represented. Diálogo con el Che (Dialogue with Che, 1968, newly restored, 53’) is a legendary film by queer Nuyorican artist José Rodriguez-Soltero that parodies Hollywood portrayals of the revolutionary hero. Una foto recorre el mundo (A Photograph Travels the World, 1981, 13’) by Pedro Chaskel (also known at the editor of The Battle of Chile, 1975) analyzes the iconic photograph of el Che taken by Alberto Korda at a political rally in 1960, and the unending international (and commercial) appropriations of this image. Leandro Katz’ El día que me quieras (1997, 30’) retraces the story behind the last photographs Freddy Alborta took of Che Guevara as he lay dead, surrounded by his captors, in 1967.  

“Rodriguez-Soltero’s most effective film was Dialogue with Che, starring Taylor Mead and Rolando Peña… Presented at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals in 1969, it aroused a storm of controversy because of its offhand violence. Soltero’s camerawork is wild and improvisatory, engaging the subject with a ceaseless series of zooms and pans, in the manner of Warhol’s Chelsea Girls.” – Wheeler Winston Dixon: The Exploding Eye: A Re-Visionary History of 1960s American Experimental Cinema

"Visually exquisite and deeply moving, El día que me quieras is at once an elegy to the passing of the age of revolution in Latin America and an investigation into the history and mythos surrounding the infamous photograph of the beatific corpse of its central icon: Che Guevara."

– Jeffrey Skoller, Afterimage

Curated by Jesse Lerner, Luciano Piazza, Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud

Los Angeles Filmforum is pleased to launch Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America (Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine Experimental en América Latina) at REDCAT. Ism Ism Ism is an unprecedented, five-month film series —the first in the U.S.—that surveys Latin America’s vibrant experimental production from the 1930s through today. Revisiting classic titles and introducing recent works by key figures and emerging artists, Ism, Ism, Ism takes viewers on a journey through a wealth of materials culled from unexpected corners of Latin American film archives. This marathon opening weekend includes a panel with curators and scholars and six film programs: Latin American surrealist shorts; films made in Southern California by Latinas and Latin American women; a solo presentation by veteran Chicano filmmaker Willie Varela; “camera-less” films by artists from several countries; documents of diverse countercultural movements; and revelatory shorts regarding revolutionary icon Che Guevara.  The panel is free. 

Ism Ism Ism is accompanied by a bilingual publication (from University of California Press) placing Latino and Latin American experimental cinema within a broader dialogue that explores different periods, cultural contexts, image-making models, and considerations of these filmmakers within international cinema. 

Ism, Ism, Ism is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. 

The film series will continue through January 2017 at multiple venues, organized by Filmforum.

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Major support for Ism, Ism, Ism is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation. Significant additional support comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.
Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Jack H. Skirball Series

Tickets: $12 general; REDCAT members $9; CalArts students and Filmforum members $6.  Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door.


is located at 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 - at the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Parking is available in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking structure and at adjacent lots. Unless otherwise specified, tickets are $12 for the general public, $9 for members. Tickets may be purchased by calling 213.237.2800 or at or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours: Tue-Sat | noon–6 pm and two hours prior to curtain.

For more information:  323-377-7238


Diálogo con el Che (Dialogue with Che)

By José Rodriguez Soltero

1968, 53 min, b&w, sound, double system 16mm (projected as a digital file), U.S.A.

Preserved by Film-Makers’ Coop with support from The Film Foundation, administered by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Thank you to M.M. Serra, Bill Brand, and BB Optics.

Premiere of Diálogo con el Che restoration, by Julio Ramos

The premiere of José Rodríguez Soltero’s restored and subtitled Diálogo con el Che (1968) at Ism, Ism, Ism is a cinematic event that will shake preconceived notions about experimental film and revolutionary politics in the 1960s. Rodríguez Soltero’s rendering of Che Guevara’s final moments, filmed in a New York City basement only a few months after the guerrilla fighter’s brutal death in Bolivia, had a polemical run in the Berlinale (under the name Ché is Alive!), and in New York in underground venues like Jonas Mekas’ own Cinematheque.

But thereafter the film fell into oblivion. The Puerto Rican director’s two earlier films,  Jerovi (1965) and Life, Death and Assumption of Lupe Vélez (1966) regained significant visibility thanks to the LGBT revivals of underground cinema since the early 2000s (both were re-mastered by Anthology Film Archives). However, his bilingual and overtly political approach to revolutionary inscriptions of masculinity and iconicity in Diálogo con el Che fell through the cracks of ideological divides. When Mekas reviewed the film in his Movie Journal column in the Village Voice (May 1, 1969), he describes Taylor Mead’s remarkable performance as a U.S. soldier in Che is Alive! as one of Mead’s “very best.” Nevertheless, the experimental film’s intercultural and political intersections went unnoticed. Rodríguez Soltero’s collaboration with Venezuelan performer Rolando Peña in Diálogo con el Che was a condemnation of U.S. official intervention in Guevara’s capture and assassination, as well as a reflection on the appropriation of Guevara’s image as a media-event.

This phenomenon was evident in Fleischer’s Che! (1969), Hollywood’s first bio-pic on the Argentine revolutionary icon that was already in the works when Rodríguez Soltero and Peña came up with the concept in 1968. Rodríguez Soltero and Peña inflect experimental aesthetics with a singular political accent that embodies the multiple and often colliding visions and soundscapes of a diverging underground. Fifty years later, their vision continues to stimulate new approaches and conversations about rarely discussed North/ South articulations.