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By Dolissa Medina

Grounds is a visceral documentary -- a film that explores the scent of history and the organic texture of racial and migratory memory. In this film, that texture takes the form of coffee grounds, a metaphor for the ancestral homeland of the immigrant. The piece is inspired by the true story of the filmmaker's great-grandmother, Antonia Gonzalez, who during the Mexican Revolution hid family treasures inside a coffee can and fled with her two daughters into Texas. Her federalist husband, however, was captured and executed, leaving Antonia a widow. Years later, Antonia (or "Mama Tonia" as her descendents called her) returned to Mexico looking for both her husband's gravesite and the items in the coffee can beneath her house.

She found neither.

Since then, that buried coffee can became a lost ancestral time capsule, holding clues to a family past that can only be imagined. Using this unearthed tale as a taking off point, filmmaker Dolissa Medina traces her own story of moving to San Francisco, where she takes a job selling coffee. As she physically handles the grounds and inhales their scent, a visceral connection to the past is made. Issues of home, community, displacement and the inheritance of memory are explored, and the seeds of oral history are replanted for discovery by future generations.

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Selected Screenings:

-CineFestival Latino Film Festival (San Antonio, Texas)

-Women of Color Film Festival (UC-Berkeley)

-39th Ann Arbor Film Festival (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

-Mix New York

-Eclipse: Toward a Decolonizing Cinema (UC-Santa Cruz)

-25th San Francisco Int’l Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

-Society for Cinema Studies Conference (Washington, D.C.)

Additional information


Digital Site License, DSL/DVD Bundle, DVD Rental, DVD Sale


Community College, K-12, Public Libraries & Select Groups, Universities, Colleges & Institutions, Violence Against Women Groups


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