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Latin American Film Festival Begins Sept. 13

CSULB welcomes the return of the Latin American Studies Film Series on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in the University Theater with this year’s theme of “Dreams and Realities.” Admission is free and all films have English subtitles.

A screening of the 2006 documentary "Cocalero," directed by Alejandro Landes and nominated for a Grand Jury Prize in the world cinema category at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, opens the series. The film examines the rise of union organizer Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia. There will be a Q&A with Aymara international affairs liaison Mayra Gómez.

“The Film and Electronic Arts Department understands the importance of having a Latin American Studies Film Series on campus because it sees the value that brings to its curriculum,” said José Sánchez-H., a member of the faculty since 1988. “The success of the film series says a lot about the Film and Electronic Arts Department's willingness to collaborate with student organizations, the College of Liberal Arts and other departments, as well as reaching out to other cultural organizations in the Long Beach and Los Angeles communities.”

On Thursday, Sept. 20, the series continues with "Pretending" (2005) a comedy by award-winning director Claudio Dabed. The story is about a Chilean woman named Amanda who, after being humiliated by her lover and fired from her job, decides to move to a new town and start over, but this time by making herself over as an unattractive woman, in an effort to be taken seriously. Cinematographer Masanabu Takayanagi, a 2000 Film and Electronic Arts (FEA) graduate, traveled to Chile to work on the film. Following this experience, Masanobu continued to work on other Latin American productions including the Academy Award nominee film "Babel."  He is the recipient of the prestigious John F. Seitz Award for outstanding cinematography given by the American Society of Cinematographers. There will be a Q&A with Dabed and Takayanagi.

“The entries are selected through attending film festivals, such as the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. The program includes one Latin American film preserved by the Academy Film Archive.  We also take into account recommendations from FEA students attending film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival,” explained Sánchez-H. “The film 'Cocalero' screened at Sundance this year, was recommended by a former student of mine who suggested screening it at the Latin American Studies Film Series. Entries are also recommended by faculty involved in the film series.”

On Thursday, Sept. 27, the series screens "Little Giants" (1960), directed by Oscar nominee Hugo Butler (as Hugo Mozo), with a new 35mm print created by the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS); the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, and the Department of Film and Electronic Arts.  Based on a true story about the Monterrey Industrial Little League team and a young man named Angel Macias determined to win, the film follows the team’s rise to prominence in the U.S. Museum of Latin American Art Director Gregorio Luke will participate in the post-screening discussion.

The film series concludes on Thursday, Oct. 4, with "A Ton of Luck" (2006) directed by award-winning director Rodrigo Triana. The story is based on actual events that occurred in Colombia in May 2003, when four soldiers from the anti-guerrilla “Destroyer” battalion found a hidden cache of $46 million. 

The Latin American Studies Film Series is sponsored by the university’s Film and Electronic Arts Department; College of the Arts; the Latin American Studies Program; the Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures Department; and the College of Liberal Arts, in collaboration with many CSULB student organizations and departments, and organizations outside the university. 

The event is organized by Sánchez-H., as well as Luis Arroyo, José Moreno, Victor Rodriguez and Armando Vázquez-Ramos (Chicano and Latino Studies), Rosa Carrillo (University Outreach and School Relations), Norma Chinchilla (Sociology), Alicia del Campo (Romance, German, and Russian, Languages and Literatures), Liesl Haas (Political Science), Jayne Howell (Anthropology), and Elena Macias (Office of Government and Community Relations).

“Our goal for this year's film series is to continue providing students, faculty, staff and the Long Beach community with an opportunity to experience cinema and culture from Latin America,” said Sánchez-H.  

He feels great satisfaction as a scholar and filmmaker in helping to showcase the preservation and restoration of Latin American cinema achieved by the (AMPAS) film archive in collaboration with the FEA and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

“Every year, we screen a new 35mm print of a newly preserved or restored film to students, faculty, staff and the Long Beach community,” he said. “It gives students a great opportunity to discover the art and history of a cinema relevant to their field of studies or in many cases a cinema which is part of their own culture. I believe that for film scholars, it is essential to be able to have access to films made in the past. This cannot be achieved without preservation and restoration. When you find yourself writing about films based only on what other scholars or film critics wrote, you are missing the most important part of your research, and that is being able to see and study the films you are writing about. Most filmmakers don't think about preservation of their work until is too late. As a filmmaker, I hope to continue bringing awareness to our students at the Film and Electronic Arts Department on the importance and the value of film preservation.”