Marise Sistach

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gender, identity, metropolises
Film (feature film)
America, Central
Mexico City
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May 28, 2003
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The difficulties of life as a couple

Born in 1952 in Mexico City, Marisa Sistach has focused in her main films on problems of personal relationships and families. This is also the main theme of a generation of young women who began in the 80s to make their way into Mexican film-making. Marisa Sistach, however, seldom works on her scripts alone like Maria Novaro. Apart from ´Los pasos de Ana´, her films have been written or directed together with her partner José Buil. Notable in her full length feature films is her preoccupation with audio visual media which, as films and video, she often involves in the action.
After careful training and experience in television Marisa Sistach managed in 1989 to make her first full length feature film, ´Los pasos de Ana´, a tale with autobiographical traits. Together with her two children, a 30 year-old divorcee, Ana, has an active love-life. From her dream of film-making she has preserved the mania of recording her life on video, and as a director´s assistant she has at least found something to do. But she has to decide for life between her three lovers, whom she has got to know during work on the film. Moreover, she wants to record the turbulence of her love-affairs, too, in the form of an intimate video diary.

The film sympathetically records a woman´s attempt, in spite of children and men, to lead a life of her own and to reflect this attempt in the medium of film. As the woman herself says: ´More than a certain way of life, a certain way of looking interests me.´ This ´article of faith´ is put playfully into practice and does not become an aesthetic dogma. Likewise this tale of emancipation is not made into a feministic cause célèbre, though Ana weaves her web deliberately and does not leave decisions to her three men. Her process of learning is a male i.e. limited one. Ana gets along with other women and their unavoidable accessories as a woman herself without adapting to them or continually squabbling. She just goes her own way.

This film was almost blithe, but the Mexican film bureaucracy was less so. The film was made in 1988 on Super 16 and edited on video and then kept on ice for two years. No one wanted to finance the blow up. Only on being invited to be shown at the International Forum of Young Films at the Berlinale could ´Los pasos de Ana´ be finished, premiered in Berlin in 1991 and soon afterwards be shown in Mexico.

In ´Anoche soñé contigo´ (1991) Marisa Sistach turns, in her concern for personal relationships, to two youths who are just discovering sex in life. But this time she fails to achieve the spontaneity and freshness of her debut. Too many film-ingredients are mixed into a rather contrived style of comedy.

´La linea paterna´ (1995) begins with the film-takes which José Buil´s grandfather had made in Veracruz in the 30s and were at risk of deteriorating. They were carefully restored and copied onto the present-day picture-format. From these unique documents, the two of them develop ´the paternal line´ of their family story, which is also a testament to a certain phase of culture in a Mexican region - a phase about which few films remain. The film is a careful, drawn-out and sometimes clearly poetic meditation about the desolation which time can leave in films and life.

In ´El Cometa´ (1998) Marisa Sistach and José Buill remain concerned with history but displace the action to the young revolutionary Valentina at the start of the 20th century. The dictatorship of Porfino Diaz is hanging by a thread soon to be snapped by the revolution. Valentina is on a secret mission as a member of a travelling circus. She discovers love in falling in love with Victor, who is fascinated with film-making and records the political turbulence of the time on their adventurous journey. In this mainly conventional work Marisa Sistach withdraws still further from her successful beginnings.
Author: Peter B. Schumann 


Born on 1st September 1952 in Mexico City, Marise Sistache Perret, whose name was variously written as Maryse or Marysa then finally as Marisa Sistach, began by studying anthropology at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City then turned to studying film-directing at the state Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. Her final work there, ´Y si platicamos de agosto?´ (1980), won the highest Mexican award, the Ariel for the best short feature film. In 1983 she directed the hour-long film ´Conozco a las tres´ and thus gained the attention of film critics. She became a director´s assistant with Felipe Cazals and Jorge Fons.

From 1985 on, she made some short films as part of the television series ´Los libros tienen la palabra“ from TV Cultura and made various short feature films for Imevisión: ´El juego de los besos´, ´La cirquerita´ (both in 1985), ´Agata, un cuento esquimal´, ´Motivos personales´ (both in 1986), ´Gilberto Owen, lo recuerdo olvidado´ (1987) as well as the short documentary ´Nyhere´ (1986), which marked the start of her co-operation with José Buill, her husband, who at first worked as co-author. In 1988 she was able to make her first full-length feature, ´Los pasos de Ana´, which brought her international recognition. In 1991 there followed her second: ´Anoche soñé contigo´. Even in the 90s she made short documentary films: ´Un planeta mejor para los niños´, ´Londres´, ´Ginebra´ and ´Sidney´. In 1995, together with José Buill, she made the long documentary ´La línea paterna´ and in 1998 the feature ´El cometa´. In 2000 she was awarded a grant by the Guggenheim Foundation.


El cometa

Film / TV,

La línea paterna

Film / TV,

Los pasos de Ana

Film / TV,

Y si platicamos de agosto

Film / TV,


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

The Mexico-festival in Berlin

(15 September 02 - 01 December 02)
Perfume de Violetas