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Film Festival Brings International Cinema to Ursinus

Throughout the spring semester, Ursinus will host a series of Latin American and Spanish films in Olin Auditorium, open to students, faculty, staff and community members.

Teresa Ko, an associate professor of modern languages and the Latin American studies program coordinator, is excited to be working on this special festival for the first time.

“The idea of doing such a film festival came from our student groups, ALMA (The Association of Latinos Motivated to Achieve) and L.A.X., who thought it would be a great way to showcase the diversity of the Latinx, Latin American and Hispanic worlds, as well as generate new and different conversations in our community,” Ko explained.

Each of the four featured films come from Latin America and Spain and represent a diverse set of styles and themes. The films take the audiences from the rooftops of Havana in the Cuban dramedy El Techo to a steam train barreling across Bolivia in Carga Sellada.

This event is an offshoot of the annual International Film Festival typically held during the fall semester, which shows films from each of the six modern languages taught at Ursinus: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

“The International Film Festival is a relaxed, fun and engaging way to bring different perspectives, experiences, and stories from around the world to our college community, Ko said. “Although we seem to have endless film options on Netflix and other such platforms, there are many voices and expressions that are not included.”

According to Ko, most of the films featured in the festival are not readily available to U.S. audiences. Because of this, Ursinus’s film festivals benefit from an increasing amount of participation from local community members who come for the film and the discussion portion of the event.

The films will also be an integral part in Ko’s classes, playing a part during her Introduction to Latin American Studies course, where they will discuss the films. Other students across the many Spanish language courses will also be watching and discussing some of the films.

The program is a collaboration between the Latin American studies, film studies and modern languages departments and received funding support from the arts and lectures committee. This film series was also made possible with the support of Pragda, SPAIN Arts & Culture, and the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain.

Below is a list of the films in the series:

Thursday, Feb 13, 6 p.m.: El techo/On the Roof (Cuba)

In this feel-good ensemble dramedy, a flat rooftop in an old Havana neighborhood is the natural habitat for three friends who spend their days and nights dreaming about the future. Yasmani is an amateur pigeon fancier who is too shy to talk to a girl he likes; Victor José has convinced himself of his Sicilian descent and now prefers to go by Vito; Anita is five months pregnant and pretends that she doesn’t care who the father is. In the midst of their boredom, without money and dreaming about success, they decide to set up their own business. The cost of this dream will finally lead them to personal maturity, but with some difficulty.

Tuesday, Mar 17, 7 p.m.: Carga sellada/Sealed Cargo (Bolivia)

With a promotion in the offering and his beautiful wife Nena at his side, things couldn’t be better for ambitious policeman Hector Mariscal. Before he can enjoy the good life, though, a final, top-secret assignment must be carried out: to transport-by rail-a highly toxic cargo across Bolivia’s high desert backcountry and “dispose” of it in a remote indigenous village. With kind engineer Klinger guiding his beloved steam locomotive Federica, and presented with a crew of hapless cops and an unexpected young stowaway, Mariscal finds that there’s much more on the line than he imagined in this sharp, energetic satire.

Wednesday, April 1, 6 p.m.: Asier eta biok/Asier and I (Spain)

Asier and I tells the story of the friendship between Aitor and Asier Aranguren from their time growing up together in the conflict-affected and politicized eighties of the Basque Country. Eventually, Aitor moved to Madrid to pursue his dream of becoming an actor, and Asier joined the terrorist group ETA. Years later, Asier was arrested and interned in a French prison, where he was detained for eight years.

Thursday, April 16, 7 p.m: NN (Peru)

A group of forensic anthropologists digs up the corpses of eight people who disappeared without a trace 20 years ago during a violent political period in Peru. Among them, they find a ninth unidentified corpse. The only thing that can lead to the identity of the man is the vague photo of a smiling girl found in his shirt’s pocket. —By Mary Lobo ’15