Samantha Raghu – Staff Writer
As a means of broadening the intercultural scope of the Gustavus community, the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures along with the Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies (LALACS) program are hosting the fifth Latinx Film Festival this semester.
Associate Professor of Modern Languages, Chair of the LALACS program and Head Organizer Angelique Dwyer shared the purpose and motivation behind this event.
“Six yers ago, a few colleagues and I talked about bringing more international films to campus because one of the things that we noticed was that students get a lot of funding to show films. But many of the films that are selected are Disney movies, or just random feel-good movies. But we saw that there weren’t a lot of international films shown or seen on campus,” Dwyer said.
“So many people in the US are not used to watching films in other languages, and I think that’s sad. That’s why this all started. We wanted to try to get international film to students, make it more accessible, have it be more fun and hopefully get students into the habit.”
Dwyer expressed how the inaccessibility of international films was seen in the wider St. Peter and Mankato communities as well with little to no showing of international films in local theatres, which made the idea of an International film festival on campus for Dwyer and her colleagues more compelling.
As successful as the festival has been, Dwyer explains some of the barriers and solutions that arose during the early planning process for the festival.
“We hosted it for one year, but then got tons of roadblocks for how expensive it is because in order to show a film and advertise it, you got to have a lot of money to pay for those film rights. So the first festival‒since we didn’t have the funding‒we would just get together a group of students from our classes mainly. After the first festival was a success, we got together and started to apply for grant funds to be able to do this on a larger scale,” Dwyer said.
“We found this organization called PRAGDA, it’s the Spanish film club and it’s actually an organization through the secretary of culture for Spain. They annually have funds that they send out to anybody who’s a worthy applicant – usually institutions, a lot of them, schools, universities, colleges. We go on their website and they have a whole catalog of films and some of them are from five to ten years ago, but for the most part they’re quite contemporary,” Dwyer said.
While some of the previous film festivals were centered around specific themes, such as gender and sexuality, Dwyer prioritizes the representation of various groups and cultures throughout Latin America when determining the selection of films to showcase. In some of the films chosen, there is representation of multiple languages as well, such as various Indigenous languages and Haitian Creole.
“I want there to be several countries represented, so a film from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia or Spain just to make sure that there’s a vast representation of the Spanish speaking world. We also want to make sure that there’s diversity of representation in terms of geographic location, as well as ethnic, racial, gender, sexuality, etc,” Dwyer said.
Given its virtual nature this year, Dwyer explains participants are given virtual access to the films a week prior to the Q&A. During the Q&A session, various LALACS professors contextualize the film for the audience and offer their points of view on the film.
Dwyer also explains the limitations and successes of the festival under COVID-19.
“The biggest limitation so far is having a reduction in our budget and I think it’s campus-wide since most departments have gotten lower budgets. And for that reason we haven’t been able to interview the directors for all of the films, because that is more costly. On the flip side, we have had wonderful attendance so far,” Dwyer said.
While there is a five-film line-up, Dwyer states her personal favorite film that she is excited to share/watch.
“The one I’m the most excited about is the last film called Ema. It’s different in that it talks about reggaeton, hip-hop, Latinx hip-hop culture. But it’s also a really dramatic film about gender and women and adoption and the difficulties of a woman getting pregnant and then talking about her options in terms of abortion and being a mother and parenting a child,” Dwyer said.
The Latinx Film Festival is accessible to all Gustavus and outer St. Peter community members, along with having frequent participation from alumni and family members. Students who are also interested in writing a review after viewing any of the films can submit one to Ana Adams (Associate Professor of Modern Languages and LALACS).