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Andres Garza and Francisco Romero

Andres Garza and Francisco Romero

Progress by Andres Garza

Sunday May 19, 2024, 7:00 pm

At 2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90057

In person: Filmmakers Andres Garza and Francisco Romero, & Programmer Diego Robles

Including the World premiere of Francisco’s two films - Filter and Self Portrait!

Tickets: $15 general, $8 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members

Films about Los Angeles are seldom about the ordinary, everyday lives of people who are born, raised and reside in the region. Narrative films often bend to expectations that a film must be about the extraordinary. What is lost when these films are realized is not only nuance and artful interpretation, but the history and perspectives of those whose lives are not deemed worthy of narrative treatment.

Progress (2003) is a rare example of Los Angeles neorealism that takes the commonplace as its subject and presents a version of Los Angeles rarely seen in film. Andres Garza's portrait of a young Mexican American working as a busboy and aspiring to become a writer in a working class suburb extends the geography and tradition of films like The Exiles, Killer of Sheep and Bless their Little Hearts into the early 2000s. 

Upon its release Progress was met with some resistance, as it was neither accepted into a single film festival nor shown outside of small circles. Today it represents an important and underrepresented side of Los Angeles filmmaking. While most films go big, making life bigger and better than real life, Progress goes small, representing life in all its mundanity.Even more, the film casts a light on people who are seldom acknowledged in mainstream cinema, but who nevertheless make up a large majority of the people who reside in the greater Los Angeles region.

Progress was produced as a thesis film in the Film/Video Program at the California Institute of the Arts in 2003. It has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, CalArts and Colgate University. In 2004, the film was chosen by Thom Andersen to be a part of the Los Angeles Plays Itself program at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, which showcased Los Angeles films and filmmakers.

Twenty years after its release, Filmforum welcomes Progress for a special screening and conversation with the filmmaker. The evening will also feature two short films by fellow CalArts alumni, Francisco Romero. Garza writes of Romero’s films: “During our time at CalArts, Romero and I lived together, and we’d often have these long, all night conversations about film, art and music. We came from different areas of Los Angeles, and had our own unique perspective of the city, but we shared a common interest in the kind of art that resonated with us and the ideas we were looking to explore in our own work. Out of these conversations emerged several short films that we made independently of one another, but were in a way an extension of our ongoing dialogue. The short films we made during this time felt like exercises or ways of asking, ‘Does this work?’ Progress emerged from these conversations, and so Romero’s short films are not only beautiful and noteworthy in their own right, but they were important to the making of the film.” 

Masks are highly recommended at Filmforum shows - N95 or KN95.

Andres Garza is a writer, filmmaker and archivist. Born in Long Beach, CA and raised in the southeast Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, he studied at California State University, Long Beach, California Institute of the Arts and Stanford University. His creative and critical works include films, short stories and creative non-fiction. Andres is currently working on a book that explores everyday, lost stories from Los Angeles, weaving together local, familial and personal histories. 

Francisco Romero is an independent filmmaker and artist born in Los Angeles, California.  Francisco was raised in the working class communities of Pico-Union and South Gate, California.  Francisco studied Film and Electronic Media at California State Long Beach where he received his BFA as well as CalArts where he received his MFA in Film and Video Production.  He has had the opportunity to screen his work at a variety of small and independently run galleries and film festivals throughout Southern California.  Currently, Francisco works for the University of California, Irvine as an Education Coordinator and resides in Northeast Los Angeles with his wife and two young children.

Programmer Diego Robles is an educator, artist, and filmmaker. Originally from the San Diego/Tijuana Border, Diego has been based in Los Angeles since 2002. He attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where he was Assistant Programmer for Melnitz Movies. At CalArts’ School of Film/Video and School of Critical Studies, he earned a Dual MFA and curated student-led Film Festivals and film/video screenings on Chicanx and Latinx Cinema. As a researcher, Diego has engaged the REMAP Center at UCLA, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts Sciences’ Oral History Projects. He facilitated classes at Self-Help Graphics, the CAP Program at CalArts, the Summer Discovery Program at UCLA, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the LA County Office of Education, and artworxLA. He currently lectures in the California State University at San Bernardino and San Diego. 

Progress 2003 AndresGarza Image 6

Progress by Andres Garza


By Andres Garza

2003 | USA | Digital Video | B&W | Sound | 87 min.

With influences in punk, neorealism, direct cinema and memoir, Progress (2003) is an episodically told narrative that centers on Sal Lucero, a young busboy who lives at home with his mom in the working class suburb of Los Angeles where he's always lived. The sparse narrative follows Sal through his ups and downs, as he parties with his friends, struggles with his broken down car, has long conversations with his mother, avoids going to church, and grapples with his burgeoning interest in writing. His ideas, written on note cards pinned to a bulletin board, veer from the philosophical to family history and form the backbone of this intimately told film.

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Self Portrait by Francisco Romero

Self Portrait 

By Francisco Romero

2001 | USA | Digital Video | B&W | Sound | 6:21 min.

World Premiere!

Shot on a visit to the filmmaker’s parent’s home in South Gate, California in 2001, Self Portrait is a longing, a remembrance and a desire for understanding one’s place. Set in an 841-square foot home that resides along the industrial corridor of Southeast Los Angeles where the filmmaker grew up, Self Portrait explores family, home and the politics of place. 

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Filter, by Francisco Romero 


By Francisco Romero 

2000 | USA | Digital Video | B&W | Sound | 3:52 min.

World Premiere!

In this intimate, yet matter-of-fact portrait, the filmmaker interviews his father while he changes the oil on his Honda Civic. The discussion maneuvers disjointedly from his experience immigrating to the United States, his first jobs and his current day-to-day life. Francisco Romero says of Filter: “It was the first video that I ever shot and my first attempt at interviewing and documenting my father’s personal history.”