Today: Apr 23, 2024

Latino and Native American Film Festival held on campus

Braden Saint-Val- Contributor

When it comes to supporting minorities in this country, the best thing you can do is to let them speak for themselves and acknowledge their lived experiences. By actively listening to their stories, struggles and perspectives, one can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.   

One of the ways this is done at the university is through the Latin American and Native American Film Festival, which entered its fourteenth year last Monday. 

Created as an offshoot of the university’s Latino and Native American advancement committee, the festival promotes Latino and Native American cultures through the exhibition of feature films, documentaries, shorts and animations, as well as other artistic expressions that were made by or about Latinos and Native Americans. 

The festival’s director, Professor Carlos Torre, said that over 2,500 films were submitted this year alone, and the 372 films that were selected will be available to watch virtually from April 5 to April 19. 

Attendees of the Film Festival in the Adanti Student Center Theatre. Photo: Braden Saint-Val

Its collaboration with the university is focused on encouraging the recruitment and retention of Latino and Native American students toward furthering their education at the university level through the invitation of public schools in New Haven to view selected films on opening day. 

For the festival’s opening day this year, Torre invited Afro-Puerto Rican musician and cultural historian Jorge Arce, renowned for his educational and artistic integration of Afro-Latino stories and experiences with the power of music and communal interaction. 

“Meeting Jorge Arce was truly inspiring, and our friendship has been invaluable. His work in combining music and history to educate is remarkable. Together, we’ve collaborated on projects that bridge cultural gaps and foster understanding through the arts,” Torre said. 

Arce taught attendees about the African and Indigenous origins of instruments that are used in the music genres of the Caribbean and Latin America, like the maracas, claves and conga, also known as the tumbadora. 

They joined Arce in an instrumental performance, showcasing how genres like kompa and reggaeton are more similar than one thinks. 

Throughout last week, faculty members had the chance to request film screenings for students during their class time. 

Professors Sobeira Latorre and Jesse Gleason had their SPA 200 and 300 classes come together last Thursday to watch the films “Frontera: El mundo con otros ojos” and “Letters for our Mothers”. 

“I think a big part of it was the opportunity for them to speak to new friends from different classes, and because it’s a 200 and 300-level course, students who are a little bit lower in their Spanish can see and look up to a little bit more advanced peers and also talk about cultural themes in Latin America,” Gleason said. 

“Frontera: El mundo con otros ojos” is an animated short film directed by Cristián Freire and Bernardita Ojeda, which tells the story of Ayelen, a Mapuche girl from the Nahuelbuta area in Chile, and Francesco, an Italian boy who has just immigrated there with his family. 

“Letters for our Mothers” is a short documentary directed by Bruna Fernandez where three pairs of single mother-daughter relationships share their bittersweet journeys, exposing the complexity of womanhood and immigration. 

For the festival’s in-person closing ceremony last Friday, the festival collaborated with Iota Iota Iota Women and Gender Studies Honor Society to raise awareness of Missing and Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit Individuals (MMIWG2).  

Attendees watched the PBS documentary “Bring Her Home” directed by Leya Hale, which focuses on artist Angela Two Stars, activist Mysti Babineau and North Dakota Representative Ruth Buffalo and their fight to bring MMIWG2 to national attention, which was followed by a review and discussion on it. 

They also watched “MOM”, a documentary directed by Mexican Tzotzil director Xun Sero. In it, he has an emotionally turbulent conversation with his estranged mother, where unspoken truths were confessed, repressed emotions were set free, and they truly saw each other for the first time. 

Ever since it started its virtual format, the festival has been seen in more than 126 countries and regions of the world and has received films from over 110 countries, and Torre hopes its reach locally will expand in the coming years. 

“The festival’s impact extends beyond entertainment; it fosters dialogue, understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures. Our goal is to continue expanding our reach to other districts like Stratford and Bridgeport to further amplify our message of inclusion and diversity,” Torre said. 

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