Notes: Los Angeles Red Squad, by Travis Wilkerson (2013)

The following notes are meant mainly for those who did not watch the film. A critical and analytical text about it will be published soon.

Los Angeles Red Squad (2013) trailer #1. Travis Wilkerson's work is part of the International Competition in the I Fronteira

How is it possible to represent the vanquished of history? How is it possible to imagine those who are gone, who disappeared without telling their history, if not by means of the testimony of the victors? In which ways is cinema able to register, to narrate, to represent and to reinvent, all at once, the senses and the meanings of history and of its constitutive conflicts and tensions

Every film is a form of archive, in which traves of some history find shelter, while others are excluded. In this sense, every film gives shelter to disappearing traces. In the archive of Los Angeles Red Squad, the disappearance itself is what needs to be registered. One must understand the film as part of an attempt to give shelter to traces of the disappearance.

If Travis Wilkerson writes any sort of history, actually, in Los Angeles Red Squad, it is surely a ghost story. In their names, the director seeks to register the past and its specters. A history which does not belong in the present, but which continues to haunt it and to claim its right of presence: that is what gets written in the documentary's 55 minutes.

Its themes are the collapse of the left in the United States and police repression of the communist dissent in Los Angeles, in the 1920s and 1930s, specifically by means of the actions of the Red Squad lead by William "Red" Hynes and its infiltration and intimidation activities inside workers' organizations and social movements.

The film's approach and expressive forms articulate an apparently usual stylistic resource - voice over - and creative uses of images and sound, whose disjunction supplements, displaces and questions, more often than not, the senses of the narrative, which may occasionally seem obvious.

Nothing is obvious, indeed, in what happens in Los Angeles Red Squad, although its narrative of police repression to political dissent remains pretty much familiar and seems unbearably obvious to our eyes, inhabited by the experience of fear and crisis.

Professor de história e teoria do cinema da Faculdade de Comunicação da UFBA, em Salvador. Nascido em São Paulo, de onde saiu aos 9 anos de idade, já morou em Goiânia, Brasília, Florianópolis e Montréal. É pesquisador e crítico de cinema e cultura visual, programador e curador de mostras e festivais de cinema, doutor em Arte e Cultura Visual, com pesquisa sobre cinema e direitos humanos. É indeciso e nervoso, tenta ser leve e cuidadoso, consegue ser magro e comer muito.