Image by Livio Burtscher via Flickr Creative Commons

Latin American Film Festival

By Dr. Annabella España-Nájera

Latino Film FestivalThe Fresno State Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies (CLAS) is happy to announce the inaugural Latin American Film Festival, which brings to the Central Valley a series of films that explore important social and political issues in the countries of Latin America. Our goal is to bring films that depict compelling stories about the complexities and variations that can be found in Latin America, a reality that the CLAS hopes students will want to explore through the new major in Latin American Studies. The CLAS is happy to make all film screenings free and open to all students and the Central Valley community.

The Latin American Film Festival begins on Nov. 1, appropriately on the Día de los Muertos, with a beautiful new film by the British director Duncan Bridgeman, Hecho en México (Made in Mexico), who will accompany the screening. The film uses a stunning soundtrack and the collaboration of an impressive lineup of Mexican artists, representing a wide spectrum of Mexican music, to explore some of the complexities of Mexico as the director touches on topics such as death, spirituality, modernity and gender relations. This screening is cosponsored by Cineculture and Arte Américas, which has generously organized a reception to welcome our first director of the festival.

The second film will screen on Nov. 6 and will be the Guatemalan film Marimbas del infierno (Marimbas from Hell). The film’s director, Julio Hernández Cordón, will be available for a discussion after the screening. The film blurs the lines between reality and documentary, relying on real musicians to create an unexpected mix of marimba (Guatemala’s tradition indigenous instrument) and heavy metal music. Using this eccentric combination, Hernández tells us a story that depicts some of the challenges and struggles of present day Guatemala.

On Nov. 14, Valeria Ambrosio, the art director of Un cuento Chino (Chinese Take Away), will attend the screening of this film. This is a captivating, involving and award-winning Argentinian film by the well-known director Sebastian Borensztein. In it, he tells the tale of the coming together of two unlikely characters who seem to have nothing in common, not even a language, as they struggle to adjust to the unexpected turns of life. The result is an imaginative bend of black humor that gives us a compelling character story and some insights into Argentinian culture and society. This screening is cosponsored by the Women’s Studies Program and the World Cultures and Globalization Cohort from Fresno State.

The festival will show Con mi corazón en Yambo  (With My Heart in Yambo) on Nov. 15 with Cineculture and will be hosting Randi Krarup, the producer of the film. This documentary traces the heartbreaking story of the Restrepo family, as the director and her father search for the truth behind the disappearance of the directors’ two brothers, which took place in Ecuador in 1988. This film portrays part of Latin America’s painful past. It gives us some insight into the deep wounds left behind by the often brutal dictatorships of the region’s recent history, showing us the struggles to find the truth that is still very much a part of Latin America’s reality today.

The festival’s fifth film, A Busca (Father’s Chair), a Brazilian film, will screen on Nov. 21. This film is the featured debut of director Luciano Moura and was produced by Fernando Meirelles, director of City of God. The film digs into the complex and often emotionally challenging relationship between parents and children as it takes us on a sweeping journey through the São Paulo nightscape, giving us a view of this multifaceted city, from its shiny new suburbs to its shantytown slums. In this micro tour, it gives us some insights of recent economic changes in Brazil, while depicting its continuous socioeconomic struggles.

The last film of the festival is La muerte de Pinochet (The Death of Pinochet), which will screen on Dec. 5 with both of the film’s directors, Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff, present for a discussion after the film. This provocative documentary relates the end of a key chapter in Chile’s history, providing a portrait of its society as the directors examine the reactions to the death of the Chilean dictator. With undeniable historical, social and political importance, this moving film expresses the vitality of a nation. This screening is cosponsored by the Departments of History and Modern and Classical Languages and Literature at Fresno State.

The CLAS hopes to have strong attendance at the inaugural Latin American Film Festival from students and the wider Central Valley community. The CLAS is honored to have so many notable artists from Latin America in the program, all of them traveling from great distances, to be available for discussions. Having these artists in the Central Valley will create opportunities for thought-provoking discussions with them about their work. It is the CLAS’s goal that events such as this will provide a window for the Central Valley into Latin America, creating interest in further study of the region with the CLAS.

*****

Dr. Annabella España-Nájera is an assistant professor in the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies. Contact her at 559-278-3020 or aespanajera@csufresno.edu.

Date & Time Film Room
Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m. Made in Mexico (Mexico) Peters Education Center Auditorium (West of Save-Mart Center in the Student Recreation Center Building)
Nov. 6, 5:30 p.m. Marimbas from Hell (Guatemala) Alice Peters Auditorium (University Business Center (UBC)) PB191 [Parking Code: 333405]
Nov. 14, 5:30 p.m. Chinese Take Away (Argentina) Alice Peters Auditorium (University Business Center (UBC)) PB191 [Parking Code: 333402]
Nov. 15, 5:30 p.m. With My Heart in Yambo (Ecuador) Peters Education Center Auditorium (West of Save-Mart Center in the Student Recreation Center Building)
Nov. 21, 5:30 p.m. Father’s Chair (Brazil) Alice Peters Auditorium (University Business Center (UBC)) PB191 [Parking Code: 333403]
Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m. The Death of Pinochet (Chile) Alice Peters Auditorium (University Business Center (UBC)) PB191 [Parking Code: 333404]
  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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