The festival runs from Monday-Friday, Feb. 10-14. All films will be shown at 5:30 p.m. in 1400 Centennial Hall, and are free and open to the public. All the films have English subtitles. Most will be followed by Faculty-led discussion.
This is the first time for a Spanish film festival at UW-L, says Assistant Professor of Spanish Omar Granados. The movies were made in Spain and Latin America after 2011, so they represent a new wave of Ibero and Latin American cinema, he notes.
Granados says watching films in Spanish is one of the best ways to learn the language. “We live in a country where Hispanics, Latinos and Latinas are among the fastest-growing minorities,” he notes, “yet, there is very little distribution of contemporary Latin American cinema, especially throughout rural areas of the Midwest such as La Crosse, where the Spanish-speaking population is small, compared to other parts of the country.”
But, Granados, says watching films in Spanish is not only about the language experience. “The main goal of the festival is to connect UW-L students and others with the cultural dynamics found in Latin America, and the fluctuating political and socioeconomic contexts as described by these films,” he explains. “Film is an illustrative tool for professors to explain different cultural and narrative practices. Students are exposed to an audiovisual universe that teaches them beyond the stereotypical Hollywood stories, introducing thought-provoking images that challenge assumptions about cultural otherness.”
Granados says the films can further classroom discussion of human rights, gender inequalities, racial discrimination, neo-liberalism, religion and more. He hopes to expand the festival to 10 films next year.
Lala is the privileged teenage daughter of a powerful judge and she’s fallen hard for her family’s maid, La Guayi (singer Mariela Vitale, making her feature-film debut). The two girls plot to escape Buenos Aires and live together on the remote shores of Paraguay’s Lake Ypoá. Before they can carry out their plan, Lala’s father is murdered and she runs away from home and heads toward Guayi’s village in Paraguay, hoping that her lover will follow. While in Paraguay, she begins to explore Guayi’s troubled past.
Presentation and discussion: Rose Brougham, Department of Modern Languages
Set during the 1973 military coup that ousted Chile’s president and installed Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, “Post Mortem” follows Mario, a transcription clerk at the hospital morgue where autopsies are performed. A dark drama with traces of black comedy, the film explores two avenues of human despair. Mario fears that Nancy, the woman he loves, will never love him. But Mario’s romantic doubts are a petty concern at a time when other Chileans struggle to avoid torture and execution. His extreme final action, however, will show how utterly his fixation has taken control of his instincts.
Nicaragua’s first full-length feature in 20 years, “La Yuma” tells the story of a young woman who dreams of transcending her bleak life in the slums of Managua by becoming a boxer. Looking beyond the meager possibilities that seem available to her (and ignoring the advice of her gang-member friends), she finds solace and hope in her training and falls in love with a middle-class journalism student.
Presentation and discussion: Christine Hippert, Department of Sociology & Archeology
From the producer of City of God Fernando Meirelles comes this bittersweet road movie about pan-generational conflict in contemporary Brazil. “Father’s Chair” is the charming tale of Theo, a doctor in the middle-class suburbs of São Paulo, who is too absorbed with rage and self-pity about his marriage. He has lost all emotional connection with his sensitive 15-year-old son, Pedro. One weekend, Pedro pulls a scary act of revenge on his bickering parents setting off alone into Brazil’s rural hinterlands. Theo and his wife, Branca, are suddenly jolted out of their bitter pre-divorce battles as the father sets off to find his wayward son. An unorthodox celebration of family values is full of delightful wrong turns, subtle performances and gently uplifting observations on random human kindness.
Presentation and discussion: Joshua Everett, Department of Modern Languages
Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba (The Age of Beauty) and famous artist Javier Mariscal, have teamed up to make “Chico & Rita,” an animated love story starring the music, culture and history of Cuba. Chico is a dashing piano player while Rita is an enchanting and beautiful Havana nightclub singer. When they meet, the sparks fly and they fall madly in love. An epic romance unfolds as the pair travels the glamorous stages of 1940s/1950s Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris. The film earned a 2012 Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Presentation and discussion: Omar Granados, Department of Modern Languages
The festival is funded through a grant obtained by the UW-L Institute for Latin American Studies with the Pragda Film Institute in New York. The “Spanish Film Club Series” by Pragda is a travelling film festival for U.S. colleges and universities that is partly supported by the Embassy of Spain in Washington D.C., the Spain-USA Foundation and the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain. The UW-L College of Liberal Studies also provided funds.