Except for a few interviews, "Flor de Muertos" is more of an impression formed by the people, places and music of Southern Arizona and the Mexican border than a documentary.
And even the interviews, with local authors Charles Bowden and Margaret Regan, seem like observations rather than preaching. That's not to say the comments aren't opinionated and powerful. Bowden, in particular, who has written about the border for going on 30 years, mows down forests of nuance, detail and analysis printed about "the border problem" to an observation that since exporting drugs and labor to the United States makes up a huge portion of the Mexican economy, we shouldn't expect a sincere effort to stop it.
Other than Regan's and Bowden's matter-of-fact takes on the situations that lead to so much death near the border, we are mostly left to learn about what happens afterwards - the traditional Mexican culture's treatment of death. It isn't just "the end," it's another stage of life linking the deceased and those still on this side.
On a map, the border fence is as much of a barrier as death: You're either in the United States or you're in Mexico. You're either alive or you're dead. In reality, at least in the Sonoran Desert and Mexican and Mexican-American culture of that land, "Flor de Muertos" shows us, both are blurred.
The film, built around the November 2009 All Souls Procession and the Calexico concert that followed, tells that story by wandering between Tucson and frontier Sonora on a soundtrack of Tucson band Calexico's songs and other incidental music of this place.
There are scenes of a "sound sculpturist" making music by playing the fence, what seems like a mile of Border Patrol trucks, fields of marigolds, images of people commemorated in the procession, musicians performing in skeleton costumes at the Rialto Theatre and the fiery conclusion of the 2009 procession by fire troupe Flam Chen.
How they are all connected is mostly left to the viewer to conclude.
The $145,000 digital movie was directed by Tucsonan Danny Vinik and shot during a week around the 2009 All Souls Procession. Major backers include the Loft Cinema, Bookman's Entertainment Exchange and the Rialto Theatre, said Doug Biggers, the theater's executive director.
The film was originally conceived of as a film about the concert that followed the 2009 procession, but Vinik said Calexico didn't want it to be "just another concert film."
If you go
• What: "Flor de Muertos" premiere. Director Danny Vinik and members of Calexico will appear in person to introduce the film.
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.
• Cost: $20.