Since 2012, Associate Professor of Spanish Maria Ospina has worked with the Wesleyan Film Board to organize an annual film series titled Contemporary Cinema from the Hispanic World and celebrate Hispanic cultures following Hispanic Heritage Month. The series has run every year since then, except for in 2020 (during the pandemic).
This year, the series will occur in the Goldsmith Family Cinema on Thursdays at 8 p.m. from Oct. 7 to Nov. 4, with five recent award-winning films from Latin America and Spain featured in the span of a month.
“This film series aims to showcase cultural, social and political issues of the Spanish speaking worlds (worlds that are also plurilingual, of course) and contribute to the intellectual conversations and artistic life at Wesleyan,” said Ospina, who also chairs the Wesleyan’s Latin American Studies program. “This is particularly important in a country where the cultures and languages of these regions are central to the lives of so many, but where diverse groups and institutions are constantly attempting to ignore or erase this presence. There is a huge interest in the Wesleyan Community in Latinx and Latin American issues, and I think cinema is a great space where people can congregate to explore them in a profound way.”
The five films come from four countries: Lemebel (Chile, 2019), Identifying Features (Mexico and Spain, 2020), Rosa’s Wedding (Spain, 2020), The Wolf House (Chile, 2018), and Panquiaco (Panama, 2020).
“The films this year are about journeys: migration and return, the meanings and vicissitudes of leaving home, voyages of personal, corporeal and political transformation, and the possibilities of resistance,” Ospina said. “I think they all speak to the present moment in profound ways, particularly as many of them ask questions about borders (set up by states, by communities, by ideologies) in a country where these topics are crucial to address.”
Aldo Lopez ’22 is a member of the Wesleyan Film Board, a group of students who help curate the Wesleyan Film series and undertake research of Hispanic films to present to Ospina as choices for Contemporary Cinema from the Hispanic World. Lopez highlighted the diverse nature of this year’s films.
“Some of our films are native box office successes such as Spain’s La Boda de Rosa while others are slowly but surely making their way through the international film festival circuit such as Mexico’s Identifying Features,” Lopez said. “The cultural role of these films is as varied as all the people who worked to produce them and that is important to keep in mind.”
Ospina also emphasized the importance of the film series, especially because of the storytelling medium used to showcase Hispanic cultures.
“Film has a crucial role [in] exploring the past and presents of societies, asking questions about social life, politics, history, embodiment, identity, ethics, among other things, and thus intervening in the modes in which people understand their world and other worlds,” Ospina said.
Assistant Professor of the Practice in Film Studies Marc Longenecker, who has been involved with the Film Series since his undergraduate years and currently oversees the Film Board, spoke about the role film plays in shaping campus life. He underscored that the Contemporary Cinema from the Hispanic World series is a vital part of this.
“[The] Film Series overall offers community and entertainment, as well as a supplement to the academic experience,” Longenecker said. “It’s a place where students can find one another, and where they can see works of art that illustrate, challenge, and expand upon some of the ideas that they’ve encountered in their classes—be they film classes, language/culture classes, or any of the other academic perspectives in which they’re immersed during the semester.”
Lopez, too, highlighted the series’ potential to broaden people’s perspectives.
“This film series is an important chance to showcase cinema that is all too often underseen and underrepresented, not just at Wesleyan but really in our larger American film culture,” Lopez said. “Our aim is not to exoticize and present these films as exemplars of their respective countries or circumstances, but rather we hope for the Wesleyan community to be able to draw connections between their own lives and the issues these films present. This kind of global awareness is absolutely critical to our current moment, a time that requires looking beyond oneself and one’s own community and towards a higher level of partnership and cooperation.”
The series is sponsored by the Thomas and Catharine McMahon Fund of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Latin American Studies Program, and The College of Film and the Moving Image. For more information, see this webpage.