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Latin American Studies Film Series Returns To Campus Oct. 4

Published: October 1, 2012

The Latin American Studies Film Series returns to the University Theater on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m., with the theme “Ties That Bind.” Admission is free and parking is available in lot 7.

“This year’s theme was decided based on the films selected,” said Film and Electronic Arts’ José Sánchez-H., who has led the series since 2002. “In each of the films presented, the main characters have ties that bind them to other people and their countries.”

The Latin American Studies Film Series is presented by the Film and Electronic Arts Department, the Latin American Studies Program and the Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures Department (RGRLL), in collaboration with various organizations inside and outside the university including the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Film Acquisition and Preservation Committee, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and radio station KPFK.

Cooperation is the key to the series. “The Film and Electronic Arts Department understands and values the importance of creating awareness about other cultures through cinema,” said Sanchez H., a member of the university since 1988. “I believe that is also the case with the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, as well as the other sponsors. The key to getting all the sponsoring bodies to work together is that they all have a genuine love for cinema.”

Connections unite the program. “The theme of ‘Ties That Bind’ focuses on the way we are connected with places and people,” he said. “On opening night, Oct, 4, there is the dramatic comedy by Mexican writer and director Patricia Martinez de Velasco titled ‘Aqui Entre Nos (Between Us)’. In this heartfelt dramatic comedy about family relationships, she explores the ties that bind the patriarch of a family to his wife and three daughters. Her work is very effective in dealing with the story and she gets very good performances from her actors. As there are not many women directors around the world, I think having Patricia at the film series will give students a great opportunity to interact with her.” She is also the author of Women Directors: Projection of a Dark World. The film runs 95 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.

The second film of the series, on Thursday, Oct. 11, is “La Vida de los Peces (The Life of Fish)” written and directed by Chilean director Matias Bize. It tells the story of Chilean expatriate Andrés who has been living in Germany for 10 years but returns to bring closure to his past. During his visit, he attends a friend’s birthday party where he rediscovers the world he had left behind, including his long-time love, Beatriz. “La Vida de los Peces” runs 83 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.

“Bize represents the new generation of Chilean directors and this is one of his best films,” Sánchez-H. explained. “He approaches the dramatic structure with maturity and makes us feel deeply for the characters.” RGRLL’s Alicia del Campo will introduce the film.

The selection process tapped area film festivals and expert advice. “And, as is customary, every year we present a film preservation done in conjunction with the Academy Film Archive, the Film and Electronic Arts Department and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival,” he said.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, the series continues with preserved Mexican film classic “Vámonos con Pancho Villa! (Let´s Go With Pancho Villa!)” helmed by Mexican director Fernando de Fuentes.

“I collaborate with the Academy Film Archive on the preservation of Latin American films,” said Sánchez-H. “One of the guest speakers of the film series is Josef W. Lindner of the Academy Film Archive. There will be a Q&A with Lindner, who did the preservation of this important film. Chicano Latino Studies’ Luis Arroyo will address Pancho Villa’s role in Mexican history.”

Latin Film Festival poster

The series closes on Thursday, Oct. 25, with the documentary “Julia, Toda En Mi (Julia, All in Me)” by Puerto Rican director Ivonne Belén. The film is a poetic journey through the life and work of Puerto Rican poet Julia Burgos, considered one of the most prolific figures in Puerto Rican literature. The script is based on a series of letters that Burgos sent to her sister Consuelo during her voluntary exile in New York and Cuba between 1940 and 1953. The documentary features such Puerto Rican artists as Benicio del Toro and Jacobo Morales reading Burgos’ poetry. The documentary runs 100 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.

“We will have the composer of the documentary, who happens to be College of the Arts Dean Raymond Torres-Santos, talking about his experience of collaborating in this personal documentary,” said Sánchez-H. “I think this is also a great opportunity for students to learn about the unique characteristics of the language of music, the language of film and the best way to communicate with a composer.”

CSULB student feedback throughout the years has been positive. “It gives the students a unique opportunity to experience being in a theatre and watching the films with the university and Long Beach community,” he explained. “One of the members of film series committee, Alicia del Campo, has been working with students by engaging them in producing a newsletter in which they have the opportunity to comment on the films presented.”

One big reason for the series’ continued success is a sustained need for films like these. “There is a need for this type of cultural event, especially in California where, according to the 2011 data of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Latinos number nearly 14 million,” he said. “Events like these acknowledge the validity of a cinema that is needed, particularly in an educational environment such as ours.”

The films share a special quality, Sánchez-H. believes. “I believe each film series is unique in the sense that it presents cinema that is representative of various cultures,” he said. “The stories presented in the movies also reflect that, as human beings, we all have much more in common than we have differences.”

Sánchez-H. invites both the campus and the community to attend. “One of the reasons we offer this cultural event is to bring awareness about other cultures that live among us and in other parts of the world,” he said. “Cinema has the capacity to humanize people in a way that helps us to connect with the individuals whose stories are portrayed on the screen. It is important for students, faculty, and the Long Beach community to continue supporting this film series because it helps to voice Latin American cultures.”

More information is available at www.csulb.edu/las.

–Richard Manly