“100 Ways to Cross the Border” is a bizarre film and for those with a short attention span it may have a lifespan of 5 minutes. And performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña whom the film focuses on would most likely laugh and say your confusion has made the film a success.
As to what the goal of the film is I recall a brief bit of dialogue where Gomez-Peña says performance art is more than throwing shit and animal innards at the audience but in this film there are piles of shit and innards thrown at the viewer resulting in a delightfully incoherent piece of sarcasm and constructive anarchy. The film is not about performance art. The film is performance art.
Are you looking for a linear plot? Not here. A Monty Pythonesque collection of performance art “skits” which in entirety make little sense but individually contain nuggets of wisdom.
If you don’t understand what performance art is and why its performers pursue it this film will give you some insight.
As for borders Gomez-Peña has insight that is compelling. At the beginning of the film he explains entering the US border from Mexico was problematic for him. Dress like a peasant you are sneaking in in illegally to the promised land. Dress in a suit and you are a drug dealer. Dress in a Mariachi outfit and you are in the realm of an acceptable Mexican stereotype and can enter the country easily! Yes there are numerous references to the US-Mexican border and what is means to Mexicans and their identity. But the borders referred to in the film are not only geopolitical borders but cultural ones.
Strangely the film starts repeating itself. Why? A mockery of the linear film? God knows and who cares but his repetition is there for a purpose. I leave it up to you to guess it.
If you enjoy a non- linear film where parts make sense and others leave you puzzled this may be for you. But enjoy the outlandish costumes and what else you are mentally capable of processing. You may walk away saying Gomez-Peña is full of shit or is a brilliant artist but the reality maybe he is a bit of both.
Gomez-Peña leads La Pocha Nostra which is a transdisciplinary arts organization devoted to erasing the borders between the arts and politics.
Although the promo piece I received indicates this is a documentary I see it as a piece of performance artistry with only a sliver of a documentary in it. It premiers at BAMcinemaFest on June 25th. BBAM is Brooklyn Academy of Music. How far it goes beyond that festival?
It is directed by artist, filmmaker and educator Amber Bemak.
RKS Film Rating 87/100.