So Mayer reflects on Si Pudiera Desear Algo (If I Could Wish for Something) (dir. Dora García) as part a series of commissioned texts on new films in this year’s Open City Documentary Festival programme.
“Refer to people as they present themselves to you,” says musician La Bruja de Texcoco, telling us that she is quoting Dr. Elizabeth Montaño, a doctor and trans advocate who was murdered in Mexico City in 2020. In the streets of the city, protestors on the 8M feminist march call for the government to count them properly – meaning the number of femicides in Mexico, including those of trans women such as Montaño – with the words of cult hit “Sin Miedo” (“Without Fear”) by Vivir Quintana.
Interviewed in her music room, La Bruja says she cannot define femininity, because “it’s something that I live, a process… I’d say a transitional process, because it never ends.” In the streets, a never-ending march of women takes over the city, from the Monumento a la Revolución to the Zócalo, living protest as a process. Protestors throw pink glitter on a group of men and shouting “Rapist!”, they hammer through barricades erected around property, they climb onto the monument to Cuauhtémoc, the last Tlatoani, erected by post-Revolutionary dictator Porfirio Díaz, his fantasy of the complete colonisation of Mexico. The screen splits into two, two verticals of cameraphone footage showing slightly different angles on the energised surge overwhelming the anti-democratic, anti-Indigenous, anti-liberty statue. It never ends.
It’s the only moment in Dora García’s Si Pudiera Desear Algo when the screen literally splits, but the film – co-edited by García – is braided all through. It interweaves intimate and tender documentation of La Bruja composing, performing and listening back to her setting for the 1930 Friedrich Höllander song that gives the film its title, with verité footage (with six credits for additional cinematography) from the 2021 8M march and the Okupa Cuba Casa de Refugio feminist squat where the black bloc gather before setting out to occupy the city.
Alejandra Meneses writes precisely that “La Bruja’s voice and the step-by-step process of musical creation alternate with the voices and images of feminist marches” (my translation). Both the march and the music move step-by-step, emphasising process, rhythm and movement; alternating not as an alternative to each other, but, through their communion, to the colonial, cisheteropatriarchal police state monumentalised in the city’s fixed points.
The protestors chant:
Tu hija es en la lucha
Cops, be listening / Your daughter’s out here fighting. This is the desire, the wish: crossing the line, the line dissolved because already crossed. “The women you killed shall not die,” they shout, repurposing an older revolutionary chant to summon a crowd that never ends, to hold them in our mind’s eye.
Above a doorframe in the squat is written: “Hasta que lo esencial sea visible”, until the essential is visible, the title of an essay by Argentinean decolonial queer radical writer Enzo Nicolás González. La Bruja, through her sound-spells, takes the words and phrases that echo richly between walls, signs, shouts, and chants, and through them brings this documentary into being.
So Mayer is a poet, essayist, editor and bookseller. They are the author of A Nazi Word for a Nazi Thing (Peninsula, 2020) and Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (IB Tauris, 2015). They are a member of queer feminist film curation collective Club Des Femmes. @Such_Mayer