The colorful career and life of artist/political activist Francisco Toledo is energetically depicted in Albino Alvarez’s nonfiction portrait, “The Toledo Report.” As befits Alvarez’s simpatico approach, Toledo’s story is framed through the theme of the artist’s series of self-portraits as an ape (in tribute to Kafka’s tale “A Report to an Academy”). Clever bits of animation and wide-ranging coverage of places and people in Toledo’s life round out a satisfying if minor docu. Inactive fest life doesn’t augur well for pic’s prospects.
Raised by a poor Oaxacan family, Toledo blossomed as an artist in Paris and was visibly influenced by Albrecht Durer’s school of bold etching. As some on-camera commentators note, Toledo is better known in Europe than in the New World, but his balance of art-making and activism (both generously shown here) is prototypically Latin American in attitude. Whether fighting for a political alternative to Mexico’s once-omnipotent PRI party, or battling to ban a McDonald’s in Oaxaca’s old quarter, Toledo has never allowed art to consume his life. Alvarez’ deliberately achronological structure can be dizzying, but it does convey a wonderfully varied career.