History of the Agrasánchez Archive
Though he was born in a family involved in the film business, Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. did not become professsionally interested in Mexican cinema until 1988. By then, he was pursuing a Ph. D. in Latin American Literature at UT Austin. During his regular weekend trips home, he came across some vintage movie posters from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, a finding that permanently impressed him. At the same time, he had the opportunity to watch scores of Mexican movies from the 1930s, many of them believed lost until then. That changed Agrasánchez's life forever. He left Austin and started on collecting, preserving and cataloguing movie posters and all sorts of film propaganda from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.
He also became immersed in the study of the history of Mexican film industry. Besides film propaganda, Agrasánchez began to collect books, original screenplays, business documents, photographic collections, and other artifacts. He also interviewed a considerable number of people that had worked in the cinema industry.
Soon the collection grew significantly. Materials were gathered from the most dissimilar sources: old movie theatres, closed warehouses; personal collections; bookstores, antique dealers, and even flea markets. And the search goes on.
But the history of the Archive is more than collecting and preserving; an important part of it is the sharing of its holdings with researchers and the public in general. Research about Mexican film history is also pivotal.
Exhibits and presentations have been held in numerous venues in Mexico, the United States and several European countries. For example:
- MexicArte Museum. Austin, Texas (USA). Poster exhibit, 1993.
- Muestra de Cine Mexicano. Guadalajara, Jal. (Mexico). Poster exhibit, 1995.
- Festival de Cine Iberoamericano de Huelva. Huelva, Spain. Poster exhibit, 1998.
- Mexican Museum. Chicago, Illinois (USA). Poster exhibit, 1998.
- Festival de Cine Fantástico de San Sebastián. San Sebastián, Spain. Poster exhibit and film screening, 1999.
- Thessaloniki Film Festival. Thessaloniki, Greece. Poster exhibits, 2000 & 2001.
- Muestra de Cine Mexicano. Guadalajara, Jal. (Mexico). Large format photo exhibit, 2002.
- Cineteca Nacional. Mexico, D.F. Book presentation for 'Beauties of Mexican Cinema', 2002.
- Paper presentation on Exiled Spanish Movie Posters Artists at the "Coloquio de las Relaciones Binacionales México-España", Guadalajara, Mexico, 2003.
- Muestra de Cine Mexicano. Gualajara, Jal. (Mexico). Large format photo exhibit, 2004.
- SXSW. Austin, Texas (USA). Film retrospective, 2005. The retrospective included three masked-wrestler films produced by Rogelio Agrasánchez Sr.
- Festival Internacional Cervantino. Guanajuato, Gto. (Mexico). Large format poster exhibit, 2005.
- Ozark Foothills Film Festival. Ozark, AK (USA). Poster exhibit and film retrospective, 2006.
- University of New Mexico at Albuquerque (USA). Audio visually aided lecture, 2006.
- "Mexican Movies in the United States' book presentation at a fundraiser event at the Alameda Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.
- Movie poster exhibit at the Museo Alameda in San Antonio, Texas, 2006.
- Brownsville Historical Museum. Brownsville, Texas (USA). Poster & memorabilia exhibit, and audio visually aided presentation, 2006.
- Cine Mexicano: el imaginario. MARCO. Monterrey, N.L. (Mexico). Poster & photo exhibit, 2007.
- Museo Alameda. San Antonio, Texas (USA). Poster exhibit and book presentation, 2006 & 2007.
- Austin Film Festival. Austin, TX (USA). Film retrospective 'Tres mexicanas en Hollywood', 2008.
- Two-session presentation 'Film and National Identity: Mexican Immigrants in the United States 1910-1960)', held first at the University of Texas in Brownsville, Texas, and later at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum, 2008.
- Presentation 'Charros in Mexican Cinema', held at the Brownsville Heritage Museum, 2008.
- Presentation 'Mexican Cinema as an Industry', held at the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in Edinburg, Texas, 2008.
- Presentation 'Mexican Film History Research: The Use of Genealogical Sources", held at the Harlingen Public Library, sponsored by Tip O'Texas Genealogy Society, Harlingen Hispanic Genealogy Group, 2008.
- Presentation 'Mexican Horror Cinema: A Personal Experience", at the Brownsville Heritage Museum, 2008.
- Presentation and exhibit: "Images from a Movie House", Weslaco Museum, 2008.
- Presentation "Mexican Identity and Cinema", held at the Texas University at Brownsville, 2008.
- Movie poster exhibit at three STC campuses (McAllen, Weslaco, Rio Grande), in 2008 and 2009.
- Presentation: 'Mexican Film History as Related to Weslaco, Texas', Weslaco Museum, 2009. This talk was complement for the movie poster exhibit held at the same museum.
- Presentation: 'Spanish Movie Posters Artists and Mexican Cinema', held at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum, 2009.
- Presentation 'A Theatre for the Harlingen Community', held as part of the Cinesol Film Festival in Harlingen, 2009.
- The Archive assisted Viviana García Besné and Alistair Tremps in the making of a documentary entitled 'Perdida', about the Calderón family, the only Mexican group in having interests in all fields related to the film industry: film studios and laboratories, production, distribution (in Mexico and the United States), exhibition (In Mexico and the United States). The Calderóns also had an important role in lobbying with the Federal Government to get better conditions for the film industry in the 1930s and 1940s. They were the most influential family in the history of Mexican cinema, and innovators in the field of film genres. The documentary is a personal vision of the family by one of its youngest members: award-winner film editor Viviana García-Besné, who started the project with her husband, Alistair Tremps. This documentary has been already completed, and has got a Special Mention at the Guadalajara Film Festival 2010. ‘Perdida’ was awarded a Diosa de Plata in 2011, and has been screened at several venues and film festivals in Mexico, the United States, and Argentina.
- Mexican Revolution movie poster exhibit held at the Brownsville Heritage Complex, November, 2009 and also in the lobby of UT PanAm (Edinburg, Texas), March-April 2010.
- Audiovisual presentation: 'Mexican Revolution in novel and in film', held at the Brownsville Heritage Complex as part of the Mexican Revolution celebration organized by The Mexican Consulate at Brownsville, Texas, 2010.
- Rogelio Agrasánchez's new book, 'Guillermo Calles" A Biography of the Actor and Mexican Cinema Pioneer' was released in June, 2010. It has been published by McFarland Publishers.
- ‘Guillermo Calles’ book presentations were held in Texas: Harlingen (sponsored by the Rio Grande Hispanic Genealogical Society); Brownsville (sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in Brownsville and the Historic Brownsville Museum); and Edinburg (sponsored by the Museum of South Texas History), 2010.
- Presentation: ‘Early Film Production by Hispanics’ was given at the Hidden Cinema Symposium, sponsored by the University of Arizona, in Tucson, AZ, 2010.
- The same presentation was given at the Weslaco Museum, in Texas, in 2012.
- Participation in a Mexican silent film retrospective held in Brownsville, Texas, in 2011. It was sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in Brownsville and the Brownsville Historical Association.
- A presentation about Mexican film industry in two occasions, at the Museum of South Texas History in September 2011.
- Agrasánchez Jr. was host, with screenplay writer Álvaro Rodríguez, to the discussion following a film screening, as part of CineSol Film Festival in Edinburg, September 2011.
- Agrasánchez Jr., has given a series of talks in several venues in the Rio Grande Valley in 2012-13, and also a class and a lecture at UCLA in November, 2012.
- Agrasánchez Jr. published Viaje redondo: el cine mudo mexicano en Estados Unidos 1900-1930 in electronic format, in 2013, which was presented in Brownsville in May, 2013 and in Mexico City in November, 2013.
- Essays by Rogelio Agrasánchez have been published in several books, including two that are in preparation in 2014.
Additionally, the Archive has given information and/or graphic materials to authors of several publications and documentaries made in Mexico, the United States, England, France, and Spain.