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First introduced to the Mexican Lotería while playing with my sobrina and sobrino (niece and nephew) during family vacations, the game sparked fond recollections of dabbing numbers in bingo parlours while growing up in Saskatchewan. My Grammy Kay was a bingo fanatic. And, I am convinced that the skills she taught me for simultaneously playing bingo on multiple game cards, side-by-side, directly informed my abilities to do parallel videotape digitization transfers and to parent twin children.

Having fun usually makes learning new concepts stick better. The snazzy rhymes voiced by the lotería “caller” (el cantor) as each card is drawn from the deck serve as memory triggers for learning new words in a new language. For our AMIA Borderlands lotería event in December we came up with a few beforehand—“Improve your punta de vista, hire a Proyectorista!” and “Don’t ship your film loosely on a core, use a Contenador!” But, ultimately, our event cantora Azucena just made them up on the spot and they were brilliant (“... número 6...La que junta corazones rotos y dos trozos de pelicula ...La empalmadoooo raaaaaaa,”).
When the global pandemic scuttled plans for a Community Archiving Workshop at the Laboratorio Experimental de Cine (LEC) in 2020, we imagined a bunch of different activity pitches for how the LEC and CAW could collaborate remotely—resource translations, ‘how-to’ videos in Spanish, etc. The idea for an audiovisual preservation lotería came about while Elena Pardo, Ernesto Legazpi, and I were making our weekly pandemic-era archival clip show streamcast, Aquelarre Gonzo Camarena. I can’t claim it as the most original of ideas, as it’s a heavily referenced trope, but it seemed a lot more fun than a textual glossary and I like its imbrication within Mexico’s rich graphical and design heritage.
Finding a designer and illustrator via Instagram initially proved very fruitless, but once Elena shared some of Azucena’s illustrations of Super 8 projectors and various cameras, everyone involved agreed pretty quickly she would be great. It proved true! After racing to complete the project, I honestly can’t imagine working with anyone else.
Walter Forsberg