MUNDO MILAGROSO

Michael van Wagenen, Monica Delgad
USA 1995 | 27 Min. | 16 mm, OF
Q&A with: Michael van Wagenen

In Texan com­mu­ni­ties along the Rio Grande River, there is a vibrant mix­ture of Span­ish Catholi­cisim and Indian mys­ti­cisim. For hun­dreds of years var­i­ous saints and reli­gious fig­ures have made their appear­ances to a recep­tive public. This film takes a respect­ful look at the cur­rent man­i­fes­ta­tions of these sym­bols of faith and the people who hold them dear. The film­mak­ers, one of whom is of Mex­i­can descent, set out for the border to wit­ness these phe­nom­e­na for them­selves. Pauli­ta Rivera dis­cov­ered the face of Jesus in a tor­tilla she had made. Soon the tor­tilla was encased in plas­tic and revered for its heal­ing qual­i­ties. Anoth­er Texas town boasts the Shrine of Saint Camaro where a reli­gious sil­hou­ette sud­den­ly appeared on a Chevro­let. Believ­ers gather there every day to pray for mir­a­cles. In Brownsville stands the Madon­na Tree whose bark dis­plays an image of the Virgin. People believe she cures their ali­ments. In these border towns there is an abid­ing faith in spir­i­tu­al forces just as their Indian ances­tors saw divin­i­ty in their daily sur­round­ings.

MUNDO MILAGROSO forms part of a doc­u­men­tary series on con­tem­po­rary Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can cul­ture. »El alma del pueblo« – The soul of the people. The series grew out of the life’s expe­ri­ence of the project pro­duc­er and direc­tor, Monica Del­ga­do. The great-grand­daugh­ter of immi­grants from Mexico, Del­ga­do was raised in a hybrid cul­ture that com­bined ele­ments of Native Amer­i­can, Mex­i­can and Anglo-Amer­i­can cul­tures. Grow­ing up in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Latino com­mu­ni­ty in California’s Sali­nas Valley, Del­ga­do saw only few rep­re­sen­ta­tions of her cul­ture in the media. Of those images she saw on tele­vi­sion or in the movies, few seemed to be accu­rate and most came from the point of view of people out­side the cul­ture. As a result, Del­ga­do began research­ing the his­to­ry and cul­ture of her own family to try to under­stand the Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence for her­self. What she found was not the stereo­types on tele­vi­sion, but rather a vibrant cul­ture deeply tied to both the his­to­ry of Mexico and the United States.

The expe­ri­ence inspired Del­ga­do to combat the under­rep­re­sen­ta­tion and stereo­typ­ing of Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans in the media by doc­u­ment­ing her own cul­ture in film.