Around the corner from stacks of baby shoes, counterfeit Gucci wallets, and spangled iPhone cases, I got burned copies of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy at an outdoor market in Mexico City.
A Sunday afternoon in Roma Norte, I was drinking coffee with new friends. The city was new to me and I had only arrived late the night before. We jumped in a cab and directed the driver to a market a little way outside the center of town.
Miguel said he was going to pick up a copy of Pigsty there. I was confused at first, assuming it had to be something other than the 1969 Italian film, but indeed that was the one he meant. Seemed an implausible feat to find a physical copy of any Passolini movie, let alone a more obscure selection, anywhere without paying for shipping and waiting at least a week. But I didn't say anything then.
"He's not going to find the Passolini film here," Manuel said, as we were wandering through Tepito's labyrinth of tents. It was mostly pirated goods: branded tennis shoes, video games, and handbags; but with some intention to the ordering of the inventory. Suppliers tended to specialize in certain items, one might carry only knock-offs of a single particular designer label, another sold only anime DVDs. Tepito sometimes functions as a wholesaler for vendors who operate smaller streetside sales. We walked through the section that was largely physical media for sale— Blue-ray, DVD, and CDs with covers varying from identical to the original to very handmade-looking inkjet prints. I was told that sometimes you could see vendors burning these disks in the back of the tents.
One of the tents had a sign out front, "Cine de Arte." Inside a dozen densely packed shelves included classic art house fare like 400 Blows, Breathless, Paris Texas, and L'eclisse. Each with a cover made of ordinary printer paper inside a flimsy plastic sleeve...