Students spearhead film festival

by University Communications,

To foster dialogue and cultivate a new passion for film, students in professor Anna Cox's Spanish and Film class have launched an Ibero-American film festival at Willamette University this month.

The film festival, which also features several guest speakers, continues Oct. 23 and 30 at the Ford Theater. The events are free and open to the public.

“With this film festival, we hope to portray the incredible diversity of reality and lived experience within these regions,” politics major Hannah Schwarz ’15 says. “We hope to challenge audiences to reflect on the sometimes difficult content of these films, particularly as it relates to their own lives and communities.”

Though the films are about families living in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, the students say the core values of the films will resonate with people around the world.

“We hope the discussion will get the audience to reflect on the struggles of other families’ sacrifices to support their loved ones, how other institutions affect the family, and the day- to-day reality that leads to migration,” Spanish and sociology major Grecia García ’16 says about the discussion around “Aquí y Allá” (Here and There).

The bi-lingual class split into small groups, each of which was responsible for organizing the screening of one of five films. Through the project, Schwarz says she learned the steps involved in event planning.

“Being involved with the festival has shown me the incredible intentionality that is required when planning a public event,” she says.

“We wanted to mindfully engage with the themes while challenging audiences to further analyze deeper meanings, without promoting stereotypes through the continued use of terms such as ‘Latin America,’ ‘South American’ and ‘indigenous.’”

García, Schwarz and Cox say the planning was not easy and that they had to overcome multiple obstacles — such as providing an experience accessible to Spanish and English speakers.

“More than anything I want this film festival to be the point of entry for people into a community-based dialogue that discusses other cultures as a means of facilitating self-reflection,” Schwarz says.

Along with the exposure to these issues, the festival provides an opportunity for people to cultivate a passion for film, says film studies major Scott Forman ’15.

“Film, in my opinion, is the most important story-telling tool we have that can reach the masses,” Forman says. “I hope that the discussions facilitate a further reflection on foreign film and the history of the stories told in these films.”

Earlier this month, the students screened “Infancia Clandestina”(Clandestine Childhood), “Aquí y Allá” (Here and There) and “Zona Sur” (Southern District).

Upcoming Films:

  • Oct. 23, “Pa Negre” (Black Bread): This film is set in the war-ravaged Catalan countryside in the early 1940s when a local man is accused of murder and his son sets out to find the truth. Spanish professor April Overstreet will speak at this screening.
  • Oct. 30, “Cadeira do Pai”/ “A Busca” (Father’s Chair): Theo, a successful doctor in a wealthy suburb, recognizes how he has failed as a father and husband when his 15-year-old son runs away. While going to great lengths to find his son, Theo rediscovers himself.
  • Story by Natalie Pate '15, politics major