Belgium, United States, Mexico, 21 min
For Mexicans, ‘lucha libre’ is much more than just a wrestling show. Through the symbolisms of ‘lucha libre’, both athletes and the audience project and share a complex mythological system that is rooted in Mexican traditions, magical beliefs, popular culture and showmanship. The masks the fighters wear express not only an alter ego but also desires, ambitions and hope. ‘Lucha libre’ can be probably best described as the scene on which Mexicans reinvent their collective identity and imagery. Therefore the ring is maybe the best place where production and mass consumption can be observed as if they were a social ritual and/or exorcism. An essay in immersive, participatory and experimental ethnography, Flexing Muscles is a behind-the-scene look of what could well be described as the great and secret show of contemporary sports. If, according to Samuel Fuller, filmmaking is a battlefield, than it can be a ‘lucha libre’ ring as well. Charles Fairbanks, himself a wrestler under the alias of The-One-Eyed-Cat (‘El Gato Tuerto’) and a disciple of Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School, puts his camera where his mouth is.
Giona A. Nazzaro