From the Cat-Dog’s Notebook: Preparations for the Puy Ta Cuxlejaltic Film Festival, a CompArte Focused on Dance, and the Second International Gathering for Women in Struggle
From the Cat-Dog’s Notebook:
Preparations for the Puy Ta Cuxlejaltic Film Festival, a CompArte Focused on Dance, and the Second International Gathering for Women in Struggle
Twenty-six years ago, in 1993, the Zapatista women wrote the “Women’s Revolutionary Law.” In one of the articles of the law, they declared they had a right to study… “and even to be drivers,” as noted by SupMarcos in a public letter commemorating the anniversary of the law and the role of the late Comandanta Ramona and Comandanta Susana in the creation of the women’s law. Maybe someday we’ll learn why the indigenous Zapatista Women aspired to be drivers. But for now, the EZLN’s Sixth Commission presents an exclusive preview of the documentaries to be premiered by the Terci@s Compas [Zapatista media] on a still to-be-determined date. Here goes:
Title: “…And Even to be Drivers”
A documentary filmed entirely in the mountains of Southeastern Mexico in 2019. Written, directed, and produced by Zapatista women, this documentary compiles scenes of Zapatista compañeras learning to drive. Duration: undetermined. Format: unknown. Rating: Z (as it should be). It won’t come out on Netflix, nor on Amazon Prime, nor on Apple TV, nor on HBO, nor Fox, nor…what are the other options? Well, not on any of those either. Nor will it be shown in theaters. It will be shown exclusively in the Zapatista Caracoles… Oh, also at the Second International Gathering for Women in Struggle? Should I include that? Got it. But without any date or location? Okay. But people are going to complain that I’m leaving them hanging. Couldn’t we at least give them a hint, like a road sign? No, not for the actual road, I mean like an idea of potentially when and where… in December? Of this year? Hello? Helloooooo? Feeling low? Huh, well it looks like they left, but I can tell you they don’t look low at all… in fact they had a glint in their eye, in their gaze, like a goal, or a challenge—a rebellion, really. A Zapatista glint, that is.
Disclaimer: no men were hurt in the production of this documentary. Well actually there were, but only in the form of a few blows to the ego. Oh, and also a few who fell as they were running away from a compañera who got pissed because they were yelling stuff at the women learning to drive… no, it wasn’t me, I was watching from a ways away, I wasn’t going to find myself in the vicinity of that piece of lead pipe she was carrying… yee-haw…
Apocalyptic Synopsis: A virus produced in the laboratories of the Illuminati is released in the mountains of Southeastern Mexico. For some strange reason, it only affects those law-breakers who call themselves Zapatista women. The virus causes them to do strange and illogical things—they rebel, they resist, and they take over jobs and responsibilities that should be the exclusive domain of men. This documentary compiles evidence of this insubordination, and you can see exactly how the Zapatista women consider themselves not only to be free but also—you’re not going to believe this—even to be drivers. Didn’t I tell you? Nobody has any values anymore.
“No Happy Ending” Synopsis: A group of indigenous Zapatista women cry “Enough!”, rebelling and declaring their desire to be free and even to be drivers. A group of brave and daring party-affiliated men decide to challenge them, mocking and threatening them, demanding they go back to the kitchen and dedicate themselves to raising children. Those transgressors of patriarchal (and transit) law confront the men. The men lose, the women win. That’s it. Sigh. That’s why I said there’s no happy ending.
“And They Kept At It” Synopsis: (from an unpublished interview with one of the experienced men drivers teaching the driving lessons): The compañeros giving the driving lessons had said that they were only going to teach the women to drive the small Nissan pickups most common in their communities, but the compañeras said no way, that wasn’t enough, that they wanted to learn the mechanical aspects, too. So mechanics lessons it was. So far so good. The real scandal broke out when they said that they also wanted to learn to drive the “Guardián” and the “Guardiana,” which are 6-ton trucks—monster trucks the compañeras call them. And there’s where you’re really in for it, as the defunct [SupMarcos] would say, because not just anybody can drive a 6-ton truck. Even the compañero drivers have to battle with anything over a 3-ton truck, those things are no toys. But we thought, okay, fine, let them learn to start the thing up and that’ll be sufficient. But it wasn’t; the women insisted on learning not only to drive but to perform maintenance on the 6-ton trucks. They wouldn’t settle for less. Now they want to learn to drive logging trucks that can carry whole tree trunks. Where are we going to get one of those? That’s way out of our league. And what if then they decide they want to drive semi-trucks and trailers? (…) I mean it’s true those trucks would be helpful to bring supplies into the caracoles—that’s where they’re going to hold the film festival, they said, as well as the women’s gathering. They also said they’re going to hold a CompArte especially for dance and for dancing. Oh no, not me. I only know how to dance the moño colorado [a cumbia], but other than that, especially those dances where they jump around like deer or hang from big pieces of fabric, forget it. Those people can tell you a whole story, all through dance. Nah, I don’t know how to zapatear either. Only in the mud, really, and even then only when there’s a flat tire and no other choice, you gotta get out and zapatear. Yeah, the Tercias women were there too, making a film about the women drivers. The Tercias were telling the women drivers that they had to make jokes or something so that the film didn’t turn out sad, because rebellion is joyful. The Tercias were trying to get the women to pretend to crash into things and that kind of thing. What’s that? Oh, well no, the part where the compañera ran us off the road wasn’t part of the joke, I think she was tired of our jokes and that’s why she about ran over us. We all ran, not away from the car but because we saw the look in the eye of the compañera who was driving and we knew she was pissed, but strangely, also smiling. The compañeras are very “other.”
“Fucking Men” Synopsis: It turns out that during the second round of driving lessons, the compañeras said that when they practice with the community vehicles in their towns, the party-affiliated men mock them and yell stuff at them. So they told us that we men who were teaching them to drive were going to have to do the same, yell and make fun of them, with the idea that the women would also be training themselves to handle that. That is, we were acting, at least that’s how Teresa and the Cochiloco explained it to us.
(Note: the writer is referring to the actress Dolores Heredia and the actor Joaquín Cosío and their respective roles in Capadocia and El Infierno. Zapatistas refer to actors and actresses in films by their character names, not their real names. In the first film festival in November of 2018, Teresa and Cochiloco each took time to talk privately with the insurgentas and insurgentes, while stuffing themselves with tuluc tamales. They answered all the questions they were asked. What the women talked about with Teresa only the women know. What we do know is that they finished off the tamales completely, they didn’t even leave me a single one. End of note.)
Anyway, so that’s what Teresa and Cochiloco were explaining to us, how acting works—that it’s not real but you have to pretend that it is. So that’s what we did. Some of the compas even acted like they were drunk, but it was all an act. But when that compañera came out with a piece of pipe, that wasn’t acting, we ran for real, because what if the compañera forgets it’s not for real and that we’re compañeros and she let’s us have it. I had told them to just use a piece of cardboard or a rolled-up magazine but what did they do? Grabbed a lead pipe. And that thing hurts. What? Well they looked pretty happy to me, like they realized they could do it—drive that is—not just talk about it but really do it in practice. Now, the problem is going to be in their towns. Imagine when the supply truck pulls up to the community driven by a woman. Just picture it! The party-affiliated guys are going to have to eat their words and the compañeras can finally yell at them, “fucking men!” What? No, we’re compañeros, those other guys are fucking men. It’s not the same thing.
“Infiltration” Synopsis: Don’t write this down, but the men who were teaching the women to drive, well, we were feeling a little down because we had taught them to change the oil filter. And one compañera, in her traditional skirt and everything, did it really quickly. Then we teachers had to go change the filter on a truck that belonged to the Junta [Good Government Council]. Sonofa… there were 6 of us, half an hour later and we still couldn’t figure it out. We were about to go ask the compañeras for help. Thank god we didn’t have to in the end, imagine the embarrassment. I hope that part doesn’t make it into the film the Tercias are making.
A few reviews from professional critics:
“We macho men lost again, oh well. We’ll be back, even if there are fewer of us each time. If yesterday there were thousands of us, today we are a motley contingent trying to avoid the unavoidable.” SubMarcos (from 6 feet underground), from the culture section of the unpublished magazine, “Bitter Pozol.”
“All is not lost. We’re still holding out hope that the Tercias compañeras won’t finish the documentary in time for the second film festival Puy Ta Cuxlejaltic. What would Pedro Infante and José Alfredo Jiménez say?! Not to mention the deceased SupMarcos. My god, what an embarrassment.” SubGaleano in the section “Popcorn lovers of the world, unite!” from the exclusive film critic magazine, “I’ve Already Seen That One.”
I bear witness.
The Cat-Dog at the wheel… which one was the brake and which one the accelerator? Oops! Run!
A little while later…
Insurgenta Erika: “Compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, there is a report that the Guardian and the Guardiana crashed into each other; no one knows who crashed them, but it looks like the Guardiana hit the Guardián and put a hefty dent in his defenses.”
SubMoy: “Where is SubGaleano?”
Erika: “He ran off with the Cat-Dog. I think it was them because I saw in their eyes that they were guilty of something.”
Meanwhile, at the top of the Ceiba tree…
El SupGaleano to the Cat-Dog: “I told you to put it in neutral first. Man. Now all we need is for it to rain, and we’ll really be screwed.
The Cat-Dog to SupGaleano: “Woof, meow, grrrr.”
And it began to rain, hard, as if the clouds were yelling at the Earth:
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, Chiapas, Mexico, Latin America, World, in September of 2019, and yes, it’s raining.