Loteria: Description

by Roberto Ariganello and Federico Hidalgo
22 minutes 16mm 1996

Loteria is an impressionistic documentary comprised of a series of interviews with street vendors, lottery officials, and the children responsible for drawing the winning numbers. These children, referred to as gritones (they literally shout out the numbers) are employed because their innocence is considered incorruptible.

Rather than taking a conventional reportage approach, Loteria presents Mexico’s lottery as a visual and auditory phenomenon. The illusionary quality of the lottery as a part of Mexico’s cultural history is represented through the textured layers of the film’s sound and photography. Shot on both colour and black and white, super-8 and 16mm, with optical visual effects as well as music recorded on the streets of Mexico City, Loteria eschews the traditional expository documentary form, offering instead an imaginative, observational approach.

Loteria represents a labour of love for its filmmakers. With little technical support and no public funding, the filmmakers persevered to create a richly layered, visually expressive work – a testimony to the possibilities of “no-budget” independent film.

“The voices of ticket vendors, lottery officials and children blend with the images of contemporary Mexico City. This unusual documentary explores the many facets of the popular national lottery. Children are employed to call out the winning numbers at the time of their draw, their innocence supposedly reflecting the integrity of the organization.” Images Festival Catalogue, 1997

“An image-rich, atmospheric documentary — in Spanish with English subtitles — about Mexico’s national lottery, it centres on a guy who sells tickets from paint-peeled stand in Mexico City and the people who buy the illusion of getting rich quick.” Peter Goddard, Toronto Star