Illinois State University’s assistant professor of anthropology Liv Stone introduces her new book “Atenco Lives! Filmmaking and Popular Struggle in Mexico,” which highlights the connection between documentary films and social movements.
Stone has been studying the connections between political activism, cultural change and visual media for decades. Through her observations, Stone found that some people might be more likely to attend a film screening than a protest march. It may be a place where one feels more comfortable and safe in sharing their thoughts or ideas.
Throughout the book, Stone explores how part of the story for the People’s Front in Defense of Land of Atenco was made valuable through the production and sharing of documentaries.
Stone explained that the People’s Front in Defense of Land of Atenco, also known as the Frente, is an emblematic force in contemporary Mexican politics and in anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal activist networks throughout the world.
Her book gives a deeper background by describing the history of the situation, as it was known for resistance against the encroachment of a government airport project on communal farmland.
The Frente also became international news when its members were subject to state violence, rape and intimidation in a brutal government crackdown in 2006.
“Through it all, documentary filmmaking has been one aspect of the Frente and its allies' efforts. The contradictions and difficulties of this moral and political project emerge in the day-to-day experiences of local, national and international filmmakers and film distributors seeking to participate in the social movement,” Stone said.
Within her new book, Stone sheds light on the importance of videos promoting social movement. Films about Atenco opened viewers' eyes to the brutality that was going on in the area.
“The success of Frente was unprecedented among social movements in Mexico,” Stone said.
"Atenco Lives!" focuses on the making and spread of films as an ethical and political practice. The book brings attention to the importance of the films and how they can impact social movements.