Cultural film festival kicks off


Jeff LamsonSpecial to the Southern News

The Latino and Native American Film Festival (LANAFF) showed films that addressed immigration, culture and the advancement of Latino and Native Americans.

Wednesday, the last official day of the 8th annual festival was focused on immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The films, “The Dream is Now,” about the DREAM Act since 2001 and “New American Girls,” about the founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream (C4D) were shown.

“We wanted to highlight DACA types of issues and undocumented students,” said Dr. Carlos Torre, “because we have a good number here at Southern and it’s important.”

Torre is a professor of elementary education and the president of the Latino and Native American Advancement Committee (LANAAC).

Esteban Garcia, a Team Leader of the Undocumented Students Support Team, led this portion of the festival. The films were followed by an open discussion with the audience, including Sergio Ramirez from Junta for Progressive Action.

Anthony Deleon, junior finance major and president of the Organization of Latin American Students said that said that LANAFF could benefit from having more focus on the immigration system in the future, but also come away with a greater understanding of Latin cultures. They know the food and music, he said, but not much of what goes on behind the scenes in specific communities.

“There’s a lot of sensitive things that go on in this world,” Deleon said, “but if we all have a better understanding of who we each are, it’ll be a better life, community.”

The festival took time to time highlight Native American and Puerto Rican culture, specifically, on Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. five films about Native Americans from North and South America were shown.

Faculty, mainly from the World Language department, often supplemented their classes with screenings of relevant films, said Torre, which continued this year.

“It’s a great way to let the campus know what’s going on within the Latinized cultures through films,” said Deleon.

Anna Rivera-Alfaro of Academic and Career Advising said that the festival is a way to educate people differently than a lecture or a workshop. She said more people might attend something like that.

“The reason that I believe we need this festival,” said Rivera-Alfaro, “is because we need to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to engage and learn about other cultures.”

Torre said that the way these films go about being educational is in a very palatable way. The LANAAC also brings in public high school students to see the films. They do this as a ploy to show them the university, Torre said.

The idea is to get them in to interact and touch the university. But, the films are also brought out into the wider communities so parents can also have some exposure to them said Torre.

Often, these students come from a background where they do not consider university and are often surprised to see students that share their culture. Torre said that at a previous festival, two shy public school students who clung to each other for support lit up when he spoke to them in Spanish.

“If I’m reflected here,” said Torre, “if I’m recognized here, I feel I belong.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson

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