Mexico’s most bankable stars, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, have teamed up with L.A. and Miami-based Exile Content to produce Travis Gutiérrez Senger’s documentary on the groundbreaking art group, “ASCO: Without Permission.”
The documentary chronicles the Los Angeles based avant-garde art group ASCO during the 1970s and ‘80s. Melding activism and art, they challenged Latinx representation in the art world, politics, and Hollywood through their provocative performance art, photography, video and muralism.
García Bernal and Luna will serve as executive producers with their production company La Corriente del Golfo producing alongside Los Angeles-based North of Now and Gutiérrez Senger’s Asa Nisi Masa Films, in association with Exile Content.
ASCO is described to have “pioneered avant-garde tactics to respond to issues of racism, representation, and police brutality that were affecting the Chicano community in Los Angeles.”
“Where would we be without the pioneers that irrupt on a scene unsolicited, out of passion and courage? ASCO represents a unique moment for the Latino culture,” García Bernal said, adding: “They made themselves heard and that is why today we are a voice in the U.S.; It’s imperative to have this documentary as a piece of our history.”
“Since I learned about them, ASCO came off as a collective that amused and defied themselves at the same time. This portrait shares the same spirit,” Luna said. “It’s the natural succession of their artwork and their message.”
Luna is the creator, director and showrunner of Exile Content’s family dramedy series on Netflix, “Everything Will be Fine” (“Todo Va A Estar Bien”).
Having initially worked together as actors on Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y Tu Mamá También,” García Bernal and Luna have remained close artistic partners since, producing more than 20 projects together including Cary Joji Fukunaga’s “Sin Nombre”; Gerardo Naranjo’s “Miss Bala” and “I’m Gonna Explode”; “Abel,” “César Chávez,” and “Bread and Circus” (directed by Luna), “Déficit” and “Chicuarotes” (directed by García Bernal); and Werner Herzog’s “Salt and Fire.”
Signalling their long-time commitment to documentaries, they co-founded the roving documentary film festival Ambulante, now in its 17th year. In response to the pandemic, the festival unveiled a digital version, Ambulante en Casa, in 2020. This year, the festival aims to be back on the road, staging screenings of local and international non-fiction films to underserved communities across Mexico.
Gutiérrez Senger’s previous films include “Desert Cathedral” and the short film “White Lines and the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug,” which snagged jury awards at SXSW and Tribeca film festivals.
“ASCO’s story is truly inspiring and gives us new ways to think about creativity and social change,” said Gutiérrez Senger. “The next generation of artists featured in the film are in many ways carrying this tradition and we’re excited to be collaborating with them as well as telling ASCO’s incredible story,” he continued.
Producers of “ASCO: Without Permission” include Andrew Renzi and Nick Boak (“The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand To Die For,” “Ready for War”), Kyzza Terrazas (“Everything Will Be Fine,” “Bread and Circus”) and Santiago Maza (“The Thunder Feast”).
Castulo de la Rocha (“Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire”), Arturo Sampson (“Miss Bala,” “Un Sueño Real”), and Exile Content’s Daniel Eilemberg (“Who Killed Malcom X?”) serve as executive producers.