The Latin American Studies Film Series at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) returns to the campus’ University Theater beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, with the theme “Ties That Bind.”
The series’ films will be screened every Thursday through October. Admission to the screenings is free, and paid parking is available in Lot 7 with a parking permit purchased at the lot kiosk.
“This year’s theme was decided based on the films selected,” said CSULB Film and Electronic Arts Professor José Sánchez-H., who has led the series since 2002. “In each of the films presented, the main characters have ties that bind them to other people and their countries.”
Sanchez-H notes that the theme—“Ties That Bind”—focuses on the way we are connected with places and people.
“On opening night, Oct. 4, there is a film by Mexican writer and director Patricia Martinez de Velasco titled ‘Aqui Entre Nos’ (‘Between Us’),” he pointed out. “In this heartfelt dramatic comedy about family relationships, she explores the ties that bind the patriarch of a family to his wife and three daughters. Her work is very effective in dealing with the story and she gets very good performances from her actors.
“As there are not many women directors around the world, I think having Patricia at the film series will give students a great opportunity to interact with her,” he added. The film runs 95 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.
The second film of the series on Thursday, Oct. 11, is “La Vida de los Peces” (“The Life of Fish”), written and directed by Chilean director Matias Bize. This film tells the story of Chilean expatriate Andrés, who has been living in Germany for 10 years but returns to bring closure to his past. During his visit, he attends a friend’s birthday party where he rediscovers the world he had left behind, including his long-time love Beatriz. “La Vida de los Peces” runs 83 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.
“Bize represents the new generation of Chilean directors and this is one of his best films,” Sánchez-H. explained. “He approaches the dramatic structure with maturity and makes us feel deeply for the characters.” Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures (RGRLL) Professor Alicia del Campo will introduce the film.
The selection process tapped area film festivals and expert advice. “And, as is customary, every year we present a film preservation done in conjunction with the Academy Film Archive, the Film and Electronic Arts Department and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival,” Sanchez-H. said.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, the series continues with preserved Mexican film classic “Vámonos con Pancho Villa!” (“Let’s Go With Pancho Villa!”), helmed by Mexican director Fernando de Fuentes.
“I collaborate with the Academy Film Archive on the preservation of Latin American films,” Sánchez-H. stated. “One of the guest speakers of the film series is Josef W. Lindner of the Academy Film Archive. There will be a question-and-answer session with Lindner who did the preservation of this important film. Chicano/Latino Studies Professor Luis Arroyo will address Pancho Villa’s role in Mexican history.”
The series closes on Thursday, Oct. 25, with the documentary “Julia, Toda En Mi” (“Julia, All in Me”) by Puerto Rican director Ivonne Belén. The film is a poetic journey through the life and work of Puerto Rican poet Julia Burgos, considered one of the most prolific figures in Puerto Rican literature. The script is based on a series of letters that Burgos sent to her sister, Consuelo, during her voluntary exile in New York and Cuba between 1940 and 1953.
The documentary features such Puerto Rican artists as Benicio del Toro and Jacobo Morales reading Burgos’ poetry. The documentary runs 100 minutes in Spanish with English subtitles.
“We will have the composer of the documentary, who happens to be CSULB’s College of the Arts Dean Raymond Torres-Santos, talking about his experience of collaborating in this personal documentary,” said Sánchez-H. “I think this is also a great opportunity for students to learn about the unique characteristics of the language of music, the language of film and the best way to communicate with a composer.”
One big reason for the series’ continued success is a sustained need for films like these. “There is a need for this type of cultural event, especially in California where, according to the 2011 data of the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos number nearly 14 million,” he said. “Events like these acknowledge the validity of a cinema that is needed, particularly in an educational environment such as ours.”
The films share a special quality, Sánchez-H. believes. “I believe each film series is unique in the sense that it presents cinema that is representative of various cultures,” he said. “The stories presented in the movies also reflect that, as human beings, we all have much more in common than we have differences.”
The Latin American Studies Film Series is presented by the Film and Electronic Arts Department; the Latin American Studies Program; and the Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures Department, in collaboration with various organizations inside and outside the university, including the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Film Acquisition and Preservation Committee, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and radio station KPFK.
For more information on the CSULB Latin American Studies Film Series, contact Professor Sánchez-H. at 562/985-7661.