The Gustavian Weekly

Gustavus Professor brings back Latino Festival: Dario Sanchez Gonzalez works to screen films that struggle to obtain mainstream exposure | The Gustavian Weekly

By Ella Napton - Staff Writer | February 24, 2017 | News

The third annual Latino Film Festival will open at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 27 in the Wallenberg Theater in Nobel Hall with the movie Guarani directed by Luis Zorraquin. This festival took place in 2013 and 2015, and was brought back through the efforts of Spanish professor Dario Sanchez Gonzalez.

There will be 5 movies shown over the course of five weeks–one each week. Admission will be free to all showings.

The film festival is sponsored in part by the organizations Spain arts & culture, Prag Da, Spanish Film Club, and Secretaria Ee Estado De Culture. These organizations work together to give a grant to high schools, colleges, and universities that wish to screen pieces from their vast collection of films.

When Gonzalez first came to campus in 2014, Gustavus held its first Latino Film Festival. He has since decided to bring the festival back to Gustavus. He hopes the festival will grow into a biannual event on the campus.

Gonzalez sought to bring the festival back mainly so the community in South Central Minnesota region might access films that otherwise would not be shown in theatres in the area.

This year there are five films being shown. The first is a film called Guarani.

“It is about a trip down a river through Paraguay and Argentina to Buenos Aires, one of the main characters, the grandfather, wants his grandchildren to speak Guarani.” Gonzalez said. “The film follows a ‘roots trip’, but is inverted, the grandfather goes on this river trip to make sure that his offspring speaks Guarani. It is one of the films not presented in Spanish.”

The second film, Ixcanul, takes its title from a Guatemalan dialect. It portrays a complicated love story, focusing on a young woman from a small village in Guatemala who needs an abortion. She finds herself in a difficult position after the father of her unborn child runs away to the United States, leaving the young woman to fend for herself.

Who is Dayani Cristal, the third film, tells the story of a body that was found in a desert. The narrative details the events in reverse, and recreates the story of Dayani Cristal.

“At the beginning he is simply a body that is found, but his story is fleshed out throughout the movie. It is quite a moving, quite impressive story” Gonzalez said.

Bajari is a movie about the Roma community in Barcelona and its surrounding areas. It details the cultural influence that the Roma community has had on Spanish culture. It focuses especially on their musical impact, which includes flamenca.

The last film, Malacrianza, is a thriller that tells the story of a pinata vendor in El Salvador who gets blackmailed by drug traffickers and is told that he needs to raise an unlikely sum of money. It can be viewed as the story of this man running away from his fate.

Gonzalez believes that this event is important, emphasizing that the Spanish department goes beyond the belief that they simply teach language, but are present in discussions of social justice.

The Latino Film Festival is a good opportunity for the department to move heavily in that direction by selecting stories that will “shock the audience and raise some awareness of societal issues that could affect societies both far away from us and also close to us” Gonzalez said.

The name was changed from Hispanic Film Festival to Latino Film Festival to encapsulate what the festival hopes to achieve. According to Gonzalez the Hispanic Film Festival was more heritage based, while the Latino Film Festival exemplifies more of a political stance.

Although Gonzalez is happy with where the festival is at, he does hope for more advancement to be made in time for the next installment. He hopes to work closer with cultural programming events and provide opportunities to allow students to see more perspectives on campus.