Seguir Siendo, a Doc About Cafe Tacuba

The Latino Film Festival kicked off last night at the Embarcadero Cinemas with the screening of “Seguir Siendo,” a documentary starring the Mexican band Cafe Tacuba, directed by José Manuel Contreras and Ernesto Cravioto.

The title of the documentary is also the title of one of the band’s songs.

The movie is an independent production from Canal 22 and Canana Films, and is part of the LFF’s documentaries and shorts series, which will be showing through September 25.

In many ways, I felt like the goal of the movie was to provide an official image for Café Tacuba, a band that’s known for never talking about their private lives or their creative process — something I have always loved about them.

Nonetheless, in the second part of the documentary — if there is any way of dividing it — the directors ask the band in front of the camera if they can film them while they start their creative process.

The band willingly accepts, but not without turning the experience into a joke and calling their inspiration a way of transpiration.

The anecdotes and scenes that the average die-hard fan wants to see are all here, but the film seems to go by very fast. I left wanting to see more of a band whose cultural and musical legacy is so vast that you feel nothing can do them justice.

My favorite part of the documentary is the band’s tour of Japan. It is always priceless to see a welcoming clash of cultures, and a Japanese audience singing the lyrics of a Mexican band.

Rubén Albarrán, the singer, talks about the documentary as an idea that started while touring Japan.

Contreras and Cravioto filmed the band for three years, shooting 600 hours of footage that will be posted on the band’s website periodically. The result was this documentary, which celebrates through anecdotes the band’s 20 years of creation and success. However, the film barely addresses the band’s breakup or its Grammy award. Primarily, it shows the band’s long-term success with audiences in Spain, Latin America and the United States.

Café Tacuba has been both criticized and praised for singing with Beck, and has suffered from comparisons to Radiohead and the Beatles — comparisons all too arbitrary, and which do not do justice to the band’s creativity and legacy.

On my way back to the Mission from the theater, I blasted Cafe Tacuba in my headphones. I was riding up an empty block on Shotwell Street singing “La Ingrata” when I noticed someone going the opposite direction, singing the lyrics along with me.

Was it the first time that “La Ingrata” was sung by two people for the stretch of one block in the Mission? Our performance was followed by crazy laughter and cheers from some homeless people drinking on the corner. How many times have people sung a Beatles song that way?

In a way, the documentary felt like the band’s baby — like a married couple whose next step is to have children or get divorced.

And now, like a married couple of Phoenix, they will rise through the flames of a world other than the American mainstream.

Filed under: Art, Front Page

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One Comment

  1. jsonie

    Probably the greatest Latin American rock band of all time. Many times I have ridden down the streets of the Mission, Castro, downtown, all over really, singing out Cafe Tacuba tunes to myself while on my bike….. They also put on a tremendous and energetic live show, even now when they are good knows how old…

    I could see the comparison to the Beatles in that their songs span a tremendous range of genres, styles, and formats and they are wildly popular and successful worldwide.

    Comparing them to Radiohead is an insult.

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