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“And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself”

The second event of the Private IMC film club exploring the world of film, filmmaking and filmperception in education, society and politics – by means of films!

"And Starring Pancho Villa as himself" movie poster

"And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself"

Movie Club at Interacting Minds Centre, June 25, 19.30-21.30


The second Private IMC film club is featuring a movie that – despite of Antonio Bandera in the main role and a budget of 30 Million Dollar making it the most expensive television production ever – unfortunately, stayed rather unknown. “And Starring Pancho Villa as himself”, produced in 2003 and directed by Bruce Beresford, is telling the fascinating life story about José Doroteo Arango Arámbula (5 June 1878 – 20 July 1923) – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or his nickname Pancho Villa – who was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals and still celebrated as a hero in parts of Mexico – and detested in others – nowadays.


Fighting Only In Daylight

The main topic of the movie ironically is a movie: among his numerous doubtful ways to gain power and wealth, Pancho Villa in 1914 signed a contract with the American Mutual Film Company, granting it the exclusive rights to film the upcoming battle of Ojinaga. Incredible enough, the contract did not only include the duty of the company to pay for these rights, but also some restrictions to Villa, such as fighting only during daytime and proper light conditions etc . As it was to be expected filming the scenes was still/or even more so an extremely dangerous and costy adventure for the crew.

The resulting film became the first feature length movie, supposed to introduce scores of Americans to the true horrors of war that they had never personally seen. The manager in charge, Frank N. Thayer sold the studios on making the film despite their concerns that no one would sit through a movie longer than 1 hour, by convincing them that they could raise the price of movies to ten cents, doubling the going price at that time. The success was less than expected, but nevertheless the project got widely famous for its doubtful nature in several dimensions.


Original Film Lost

Unfortunately the original film has been lost, but some unedited film reels of the battle, showing Pancho Villa and his army fighting Federal forces, as well as photographs and publicity stills taken from the original film still exist and where used for the production of “And Starring Pancho Villa as himself”. Though the film despite that might not be the most astonishing piece regarding artistic style etc., it clearly provokes a long list of question about the status of film, filmmaking and film perception in society and politics – plus it is a good company for an early Thursday’s eve beer and pizza!


Come ALL. And please sign up for the event here.

or contact katrinheimann@gmail.com - “Pancho Villa”