November 2, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office], USC Dornsife Del Amo Fund, the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and 212 Berlin invite you & a guest to a special screening of

The Mexican Suitcase

Written and Directed by Trisha Ziff
Produced by Trisha Ziff, Eamon O'Farrill
and Paco Poch

Followed by a Q&A with Trisha Ziff

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Made possible by a grant from USC Dornsife Del Amo Fund.

About The Mexican Suitcase

The Mexican Suitcase tells the story of three lost boxes that were recovered by the film’s director, LA-based Trisha Ziff, from a closet in Mexico City in 2007. The boxes, misplaced in the chaos at the start of WWII, contained many of the Spanish Civil War negatives by the legendary photographer, Robert Capa. These boxes have become known as the Mexican Suitcase.

Rumors had circulated for years of the survival of the negatives, which had disappeared from Capa's Paris studio at the start of the war. They held 126 rolls of film, not only by Capa, but also by Gerda Taro and David “Chim” Seymour, fellow photographers who were also acclaimed for their coverage Spanish Civil War.

Capa, Taro and Seymour were Jewish immigrants from Hungary, Germany and Poland respectively, and they had found a home in the culturally open Paris of the early 1930s. They often traveled together in Spain. Their combined work constitutes some of the most important visual documentation of that war. It’s particularly poignant to note that Gerda Taro would die before her 27th birthday at the Battle of Brunette in Spain, killed when a Republican tank veered out of control. Her funeral brought thousands on to the streets of Paris.

Exactly how the negatives reached Mexico City is not definitively known. However, given Mexico’s unique role in the war, and how it opened its doors unreservedly to the Republican exiles, it makes sense that the suitcase would find its way there.

Capa had left all his negatives in Paris to be safe-guarded by his friend and fellow photographer Imre "Csiki" Weiss (1911–2006), who was also a Hungarian, Jewish émigré. Before he was interned in a Moroccan prison camp, Weiss managed to pass the boxes to someone who promised to get them to a Mexican consulate. Weiss survived and managed to make his way to Mexico, where he remained for the rest of his life. In an ironic twist of fate, Weiss lived just streets away from the home of General Aguilar, the former Mexican ambassador to Vichy, where the Mexican Suitcase was kept safely for almost seventy years. Cziki Weiss died without ever knowing what had happened to the photographs.

Provided courtesy of 212 Berlin. Not Rated. Running time: 86 minutes.

To learn more about this film and to view the trailer, click here.


About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

About the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics

The Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, USC College, issues a Grand Challenge to every new student who comes to USC--to engage with, understand, and internalize the timeless values at the core of our humanity. The Institute collaborates with departments, professional schools, and programs across the university to bring students and faculty together with authors and artists, philosophers and practioners, and the ethical voices of our time.

To visit their website, click here.

About the Shoah Foundation Institute

Inspired by his experience making Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 to gather video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. While most of those who gave testimony were Jewish survivors, the Foundation also interviewed homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. Within several years, the Foundation’s Visual History Archive held nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages, representing 56 countries; it is the largest archive of its kind in the world.

In January 2006, the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation became part of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where the testimonies in the Visual History Archive will be preserved in perpetuity. The change of name to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education reflects the broadened mission of the Institute: to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies. Today the Institute reaches educators, students, researchers, and scholars on every continent, and supports efforts to collect testimony from the survivors and witnesses of other genocides.

To visit their website, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the general public. Please bring a photo ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Phone: 213.740.2330