National Hispanic Cultural Center Premieres Documentary On Acclaimed Folklorist Nasario García

by Staff Reporter / Feb 20, 2018 / comments
Acclaimed folklorist and author Nasario García will be at the premiere of the documentary ‘Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco’ Thursday in Albuquerque. Courtesy photo

National Hispanic Cultural Center Premieres Documentary On Acclaimed Folklorist Nasario García

Submitted by Carol A. Clark 

SANTA FE ― The documentary, Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco, a film about landscape and memory, will have its National Hispanic Cultural Center premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Bank of America Theatre, 1701 4th St SW in Albuquerque.

The film is presented as part of the Bank of America Free Thursday Film Series. Acclaimed folklorist and author Nasario García and director Shebana Coelho will be present at the screening to discuss it with the audience. The film follows García doing what he loves: wandering through landscape and memory amid the ghost towns of New Mexico’s Río Puerco valley, reviving recuerdos (memories) of his youth when the ranching villages thrived and viejitos (elders) told stories beside a river that once ran.

The film’s October 2017 broadcast on New Mexico PBS and preview screenings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque received strong responses from audiences. Noted New Mexico author John Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War) described it as “exquisite and very powerful … It’s right up there with the best I’ve ever seen.”

Dr. García, now in his eighth decade, is the recipient of the first ever Lifetime Achievement award from the Historical Society of New Mexico for his "unparalleled" work in the "preservation of Hispanic language, culture, and folklore in New Mexico."

The film is produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker and Santa Fe resident Shebana Coelho. She previously adapted Dr. García’s first book of oral histories into the stage play, When The Stars Trembled in Río Puerco, performed in 2014 to full house audiences at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

“We’re thrilled to have this film screen at the National Hispanic Cultural Center,” Coelho said. “We had a beautiful run of the Río Puerco play there, such beautiful responses. And so for us, this is a kind of homecoming...”

To see a trailer, purchase a DVD, and read more information about the film, visit

According to the film’s director, Shebana Coelho, “The film launches a new experiential project, Faraway is Close, that seeks to share these New Mexico stories across cultures and communities to inspire others to call forth stories of land, water and community, bringing us all into awareness of what unites us, our common roots to this same earth.”

A Spanish version of the film, dubbed by Dr. García, premiered in the mountain village of Capileira in the province of Granada, Spain Nov. 10-11, 2017. The filmmakers are working on additional screenings for 2018 in Spain.

“And of course, our dream is to share it all over New Mexico,” Coelho said. “We’d like to go on the road with it ... It’s a uniquely New Mexico tale, about a forgotten valley that is alive with stories.”

“From a one-room schoolhouse in my native Río Puerco valley to my retirement as a university professor has been a marvelous journey,” García said. “But the capstone to the dreams in my life is reflected in the film Nasario remembers the Río Puerco about the past and present of my beautiful valley.”

Since 1970, Dr. García has been sharing stories about life and loss, myth and magic, and farming and drought in the Hispanic villages of the valley where he was raised. Located near Cuba and southeast of Chaco Canyon, the Río Puerco villages thrived between the 1900s and 1950s.

Coelho is an award-winning director and writer whose documentaries have been broadcast on PBS, Discovery Channel and BBC Radio, among others. The film is edited by Shelene Bridge, an award-winning filmmaker, and the cinematographer is Kelvin DuVal. The fiscal sponsor for the film is New Mexico Film Foundation.