The Valley of stone rivers

Around the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the rivers and lakes of Mexico City were transformed into roads, subway stations and public spaces. This documentary delves into the experiences of four older people whose lives were marked by the rivers, lakes and canals of Mexico City, when water was much more present in the metropolitan area than it is today.

We seek to narrate how we have lived and coexisted with water, through the eyes of those who have witnessed the profound transformations of a capital which slowly drained away its water and replaced it with layers of concrete. The multivocal narrative will map the fading memories of our characters, juxtaposing everyday stories of water depletion in Mexico City.

  • Pablo Benjamín Nieto Mercado
    Director
    No more fucking fans
  • Pablo Benjamín Nieto Mercado
    Writer
    No more fucking fans
  • Pablo Benjamín Nieto Mercado
    Producer
    No more fucking fans
  • Alma Maceda
    Key Cast
    "Alma"
  • Amalia Salas
    Key Cast
    "Amalia"
  • Ignacio Olvera
    Key Cast
    "Ignacio"
  • Facundo Rodriguez
    Key Cast
    "Facundo"
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    La Cuenca de los ríos de piedra
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature, Music Video, Other
  • Genres:
    Poetic, Observational, Interview, Mixed, Enviroment, Agua, Water, City, Mexico, Climate change, Olders
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 22 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 28, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    2,663,611 MXN
  • Country of Origin:
    Mexico
  • Country of Filming:
    Mexico
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Pablo Benjamín Nieto Mercado

Pablo Benjamín Nieto Mercado (Mexico, 1979). Multimedia artist I study Metallurgy and Engineering in Communications and Electronics at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and Educational Television Production at the Center for Television Training (CETE) of the Ministry of Public Education (SEP). He has participated in various workshops on multimedia art at the Cultural Center of Spain, the Multimedia Center of the National Center for the Arts, the Image Center, UNAM, among others.

His artistic proposals are presented in various formats integrating improvisation, clown, sound performance and collaborative works. His work reflects on the role of technology in human communication and the transformation of the territory.

In 2008 he founded the Melvin Records label dedicated to the development of electronics, software and audiovisual production. He has developed Apps and interactive pieces for CFE, SEDESOL CONACULTA, Alas y Raices, Nike, banks and commercial chains. Founding member of the Ibero-American Research Network in e-Salu and the technology research and development group in electronic payment methods Payment Expert, winner of the Movistar Iron Geek 2011 award.

His audiovisual production includes video art, experimental documentary and video clip. He has presented his pieces at festivals and exhibitions in Mexico, Italy, Bolivia and Colombia. His sound work is edited by netlabels Surrism-Phonoethics (DEU), Torn Flesh Records (USA), Plasticrane (ITA), Intox Noise (RUS), WakuShoppu (CZE), Editora du Porto (BRA), Anything Records (JPA) , Melvin R (MEX), Noise Entertaiment (MEX), Paax (MEX). In addition to participating compilations with Mosquito Recordings (MEX), EventNow (GBR), Torn Flesh Records (USA), Audition Records (DEU) and Ifar Label (GBR), he has presented his act of improvisation live in the cities of Mexico, Puebla , Pachuca, Rome, Prague, Paris, Lyon among others.

He is currently broadcasting his first documentary feature “The Valley of Stone Rivers”, with which Bolivia Lab 2016 participated, winning the Pitch Prize for Latin American Projects. In 2018 the project has the support of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA) and in 2017 of the Program for Stimuli to Cinematographic Creators of the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE). It also participates in 2017 at MICA MEETINGS in Mexico City and at the MIA Market in Rome Italy.

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Director Statement

When I was seven years old, my grandmother Alma would take me to the Zócalo Subway Station, where we would look at the scale models of Tenochtitlán. There, several feet below ground, in a noisy tunnel, it was difficult to imagine that Mexico had been a city filled with and entirely surrounded by water in a not so distant past. The subway was so hot and crowded that we would walk quickly to the exits, but I always wondered “What happened to all the water?”

Over the years, I have seen floods and droughts in Mexico City, and I’ve seen how rivers and lakes were turned slowly into dumps or were covered with concrete. One day I was talking to a friend and we asked ourselves about the water that still exists in our city. What was the relationship like that our grandparent’s generation had with water? What will the relationship between this precious liquid and the younger inhabitants of the city be like in the coming years?

Looking for information to answer these questions, we decided to visit the bodies of water that still exist in the Valley of Mexico. In a Housing complex near the Benito Juárez Airport we found a spring of sulphurous waters which is still used as a medicinal bath. That day we met Don Nacho, who has been working there as a bañero1 for sixty years.

Talking to him about his job and his relationship with water, we suddenly realized that there is a living generation of people who grew up, played, ate or saw their parents work in the rivers and lakes that were part of the landscape of Mexico City. These people experienced first-hand the transformation of the bodies of water. At that precise moment we understood that there are multiple stories about water in our city, and about the way the growth of the metropolitan area has led to the disappearance of its lakes and rivers.

In this manner we came to understand new ways of thinking about the city, about memory and about the ways we use and live with water. That was the point at which the idea of a documentary came to us, a documentary that, based on the memories of these people, now in their senior years, would explore the story of how water has been confined to pipes and tanks and has ceased to be a living part of the city.

As inhabitants of a city where water has had a difficult history, we would like to contribute to the reflection on this vital resource. We do not wish to make a social denouncement, but rather to preserve the memories of these people who witnessed how the city of water that their parents grew up in was transformed into a city of land.