Kiera Blake – Special to the Southern News –
When it came to introducing the last of a campus-featured series of foreign films on the evening of Oct. 15, Professor Alfredo Sosa-Velasco said that not only is the story of “UNDERTOW” very interesting, but also very complex.
“This film offers the archetype of the love triangle, but also shows the main character battling conflicts with his own sexuality and obligations to his wife and to his lover,” Sosa-Velasco said.
The film, also known as “A Contracorriente” in Spanish, was featured as part of an event program known as Discovering New Cinema from Spain and Latin America. Spearheaded by Southern’s Spanish Film Club initiative and granted by film distribution company PRAGDA, the new program brought Spanish language films from Spain and Latin American countries to the campus for students to enjoy and become aware of the two vicinities’ cultural film histories. The event series began with its first film, “The Man Next Door” on Nov. 1 and ended with “UNDERTOW” on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Student and faculty audience members who were in attendance for the Thursday showcase watched as the main character of the film, husband and expectant father Miguel Salas struggles with his identity and his personal values while carrying on a marriage with his heavily pregnant wife Mariela and an extramarital affair with another man named Santiago, which, according to the general beliefs and customs of their small hometown in Peru, is gravely taboo. As an added twist to the love triangle, Santiago dies in an accident; while his body is nowhere to be found, his spirit still roams the earth, and only Miguel can see, hear and touch him.
“The man [Miguel] becomes torn between his love for his family and his love for [Santiago] who died, and the responsibilities for each of them,” Professor Rafael Hernández said. “It also makes people look at [and examine] Latin American society and culture.”
A professor of the Spanish language as well as an introductory speaker and one of the post-movie discussion leaders along with Sosa-Velasco, Hernández said he would recommend the film to everybody along with any other foreign films.
Graduating psychology student Amaré McPherson said she shares this sentiment with Hernández, believing bringing foreign films to Southern is “a great thing, and it will leave [students] with really innovative thoughts.”
“[The film event] was originally a requirement for my Spanish 200 class, but I came to see this movie in particular because the idea intrigued me, and I had already seen one of the other movies [the initiative] featured,” McPherson said. “I liked it [and I] enjoyed the different perspective.”
Junior nursing student Monique Mason said that although she wasn’t able to attend this event, she thinks the events overall are a positive for the campus as did Hernández and McPherson.
“I think it’s really good to learn about other cultures. When schools have programs [like this], it can open them up to things they didn’t know before and erase any previous thoughts of ignorance they had,” Mason said. “They can unite us.”
When “UNDERTOW” ended, viewers were encouraged to take part in a post-movie discussion about all of the themes, values and symbolism contained in the movie, and what they say about Latin American culture in comparison to American culture.