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La Piedra Ausente (The Absent Stone)

In 1964, the largest carved stone of the Americas was moved from the town of San Miguel Coatlinchan in the municipality of Texcoco to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City in an impressive feat of engineering. The extraction of the monolith, which represents the pre-Hispanic water deity, set off a rebellion in the town and led to the intervention of the army. Today, the enormous stone, now upright, is an urban monument; it has been transformed into one of the principal icons of Mexican national identity. The inhabitants of Coatlinchan insist that the removal of the stone has caused droughts. Representations and replicas of the absent stone appear everywhere in Coatlinchan, where it resonates in the memories of the inhabitants. Using animations, archival materials, and contemporary encounters with the protagonists of the transport of the stone, Sandra Rozental and Jesse Lerner’s playful documentary film explores the relevance of the ruins of the past in the present day.

New York: May 3 at Anthology Film Archives. Co-director Sandra Rozental will be in person for a Q&A following the screening.