Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gringolandia Comes to Gloucester

The early 2011 screening trail for Dennis Lanson's documentary Gringolandia is a highly unusual one. It showed on a Monday afternoon in January in the artists colony retreat of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and makes its U.S. premiere Sunday, March 6th at the Cape Ann Cinema in Gloucester, MA.

Then again, when your documentary is about the swelling expat ranks of San Miguel de Allende, a low-key debut there makes perfect sense. And since Lanson lives in Gloucester, the American-side premiere choice of the MA town also is a no-brainer.

Lanson is a veteran documentary filmmaker, having previously covered such topics as the life and surprising musical legacy of a nuclear physicist (The Opus 139 Project), Vietnamese refugees living in New Jersey (Phans of Jersey City) and uranium mining in Wyoming (Booming). He is also a professor at Endicott College and author, currently sharing via his website the provocatively titled (and constantly updated) how-to tome Shooting Roadkill: How Not to Make a Feature Film.

Life in the slow lane

Lanson's exposure to San Miguel de Allende, a truly idyllic place in the mountains, comes mainly via his artist-wife Erica. The couple, who have an adult daughter, have set up a for-rent artists' residency (“Los Telleres”) on the fringes of the Mexican paradise in Guanajuato and plan to eventually retire there.

"Why do Americans choose to live abroad?” explains Lanson in a Director's Statement shared with local newspaper the Gloucester Times. “How do they impact this particular locale, which was once a sleepy provincial town in the mountains of Mexico? How do the Mexican residents view these 'visitors' from the north? How do the two cultures co-exist, for better and worse?" All of those issues are tackled in the film.”

This southbound migration has long been a topic, rightly, of American media fascination. For example, this Money Magazine mini-profile chronicles how a former top labor attorney in Texas relocated to San Miguel de Allende to launch a leadership institute and, eventually, the non-profit Save a Mexican Mutt.

The 54-minute Gringolandia is also available for purchase, via Lanson's website, for $22.95.

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