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Ism, Ism, Ism: Raúl Ruiz: Anthropology’s Trembling Images

Ism, Ism, Ism: Raúl Ruiz: Anthropology’s Trembling Images

Raúl Ruiz, Le retour d’un amateur de bibliothèques (El regreso de un ratón de biblioteca/The Return of a Library Lover), 1983

Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA presents

Raúl Ruiz: Anthropology’s Trembling Images

At MOCA, Ahmanson Auditorium, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

In Person: Curator and scholar Tarek Elhaik

From the 1920s on one can locate a fascinating, global convergence of avant-garde anthropology and experimental cinemas. In Latin America, this has often resulted in the manufacturing of social utopias that challenge the limits between nationalist and cosmopolitan fantasies. The work of Chilean exile film artist and theorist Raúl Ruiz belongs, uneasily, to this intersection of anthropology and filmmaking. The program examines this tension by screening some of Ruiz' little known short and small gauge films alongside the anthropological meditations of two of his contemporaries from Brazil, the artist Anna Maria Maiolino and filmmaker Arthur Omar. The viewer is thus invited to experience and experiment with what Ruiz calls "trembling images."

Tickets: $15 general admission, $8 students with ID, FREE for MOCA & Los Angeles Filmforum members; must present current membership card to claim free tickets.

Tickets available in advance at or at the door

INFO  213/621-1745 or 

This screening is part of Los Angeles Filmforum’s screening series 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.  Key historical and contemporary works from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the United States will be featured.  Many of the works in the series are largely unknown in the United States and most screenings will include national and area premieres, with many including Q&A discussions with filmmakers and scholars following the screening.  The film series will continue through January 2017 at multiple venues, organized by Filmforum.

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. Explore more at,, and

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. 

Raúl Ruiz (b.1941-d.2011) was one of Latin America's most important and prolific filmmakers, having directed more than a hundred films. His cinema, often considered baroque, experimental, eclectic, imaginative, ironic and beguiling, explores questions of anthropology, literature, philosophy and psychoanalysis with a piercing intellectual curiosity. Born in Puerto Montt, Ruiz remained in Chile until 1973 when he was forced to flee the country during the coup d’etat against Salvador Allende’s government. Before his exile to France, Ruiz was a film adviser to Allende’s socialist coalition. Along with fellow filmmakers Miguel Littin, Aldo Francia and Helvio Soto, he was part of the new wave of Chilean cinema. His first feature, Three Sad Tigers (1968), won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in 1969. In Europe he made numerous limited-budget films that were highly personal and experimental; among them are The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1978), The Suspended Vocation (1978), The Territory (1981), Three Crowns of the Sailor (1982), and Bérénice (1983). In the 1990s Ruiz made his first film in the US: The Golden Boat (1990). From that point on he directed star-led features with big budgets, although he continued filming experimental low budget films. His filmography also includes Dark at Noon (1992), Genealogies of a Crime (1997), Time Regained (1999), The Comedy of Innocence (2000), Cofralandes: Chilean Rhapsody (2002), and Mysteries of Lisbon (2010).



Tarek Elhaik is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, Elhaik is the author of The Incurable-Image: Curating Post-Mexican Film & Media Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). His writings have appeared in books and journals, including Framework, Revista de Antropología Social, and Critical Arts. He has also programmed and collaborated on symposia around the legacy of avant-garde cinema, aesthetics, and visual media.



Education Programs at MOCA, including Contemporary Art Start and Sunday Studio, and the MOCA Teen Program, are generously supported by The Hearst Foundations, Banc of California, MOCA Projects Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, MOCA Projects Council, The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, Edison International, Joseph Drown Foundation, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, Michael Asher Foundation, The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, The Sherman Family Foundation, The Rhonda S. Zinner Foundation, The Winnick Family Foundation, and Pazia Bermudez-Silverman.

Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA furthers MOCA’s mission to question and adapt to the changing definitions of art and to care for the urgency of contemporary expression with bimonthly screenings of film and video organized and co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum—the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, video, documentary, and animation.

For more on Los Angeles Filmforum, visit, or email

For more information on The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, visit

Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:

Oct 6 - ISM, ISM, ISM: Urban Harmonies/Dissonant Cities - at Los Angeles State Historic Park

Oct 8 - ISM, ISM, ISM: Films by David Lamelas - at Cal State University at Long Beach




In-Out (Antropofagia)

By Anna Maria Maiolino

Brazil, 1974, 8 min, color, sound, Super 8 transferred to digital

Shot originally in Super 8, this poignant short film by the artist Anna Maria Maiolino references Oswald de Andrade’s notion of cultural cannibalism from the 1920s, which was reinterpreted as tropicalismo in the 70s. The film presents a sequence of close-up shots of a male and a female mouth that trade gestures and expressions, creating an ambiguous dialogue, an oblique reference to the hardships of a female artist and the censorship and violence of the Brazilian dictatorship.

O livro do Raoul | The Raoul Book

By Arthur Omar

Brazil, 1999, 41 min., color, sound, Betacam transferred to digital

Omar, one of the main figures of the Brazilian avant-garde whose film Triste Trópico (1974) is a delirious interpretation of Lévi-Strauss’ anthropological ideas, made this experimental film as an homage to his friend Raúl Ruiz. In this film, Omar explores the political and artistic differences between both of them, while reflecting on cinema and their respective countries: Brazil and Chile.

The Film to Come

By Raúl Ruiz

France/Chile, 2007, 17 min, color, sound, format TBD

An experimental narrative short, this film relies on mystical philosophy and Ruiz’s vision for a “shamanistic cinema.” The short has a narrator telling us about a “strange philantropical secret society” that has been in existence for seven years at a certain building. Its members, Philokinetes, devote their energy and money to studying and promoting a fragment of film they call “Le film à venir. --Excerpt of Tarek Elhaik’s essay “Raúl Ruiz, Or Anthropology’s Trembling Images,” Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo. Experimental Cinema in Latin America, Berkeley, UC Press, 2017.

Le Don | The Gift

By Raul Ruiz

France, 2007, 3 min., color, sound, format TBD

An experimental narrative commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, this film features an anthropologist and her blind uncle sitting in a moving theater and viewing images unfolding on a screen. A reflection on the overwhelming sea of wondrous and fascinating images towards which we have to gauge, dose, and measure our sense of fascination and detachment, of distance and proximity. -- Excerpt of Tarek Elhaik’s essay “Raúl Ruiz, Or Anthropology’s Trembling Images” included in the catalog Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo. Experimental Cinema in Latin America, Berkeley, UC Press, 2017.

El regreso de un ratón de bibliotecas | Lettre d'un cinéaste ou Le retour d ́un amateur de bibliothèques|The Return of a Library Lover

By Raúl Ruiz

France, 1983, 12min, color, sound, format TBD

In his little-known super 8 mm short, Ruiz takes us on an oneiric journey into an enigmatic narrator’s detours through Chile’s turbulent political history. In the cine-essayistic tradition of time travel, Ruiz stages a narrator on a search for a “missing book” from his childhood. The film creates an unstable point of view, whose metamorphic and shape-shifting capacities are animated through restless migrations between forms. -- Excerpt of Tarek Elhaik’s essay “Raúl Ruiz, Or Anthropology’s Trembling Images,” Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo. Experimental Cinema in Latin America.