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Exploring Hispanic Culture in Film

For the second year, members of the University and the surrounding community will have an opportunity for cultural exploration when five Spanish-language films are shown on campus. The showings on successive Wednesday evenings are timely, falling within Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), the first being the Sept. 28 screening of 3 Beauties, which examines the effect of beauty contests on young girls.

West Chester is one of only 42 institutions nationwide – and the only Philadelphia-area site – to receive a grant from Pragda Spanish Film Club to host these films, which are all subtitled in English. All screenings are free and open to the public, with Appetizers served at 7:15 p.m. A WCU Languages and Cultures department faculty member will lead a post-film discussion.

The films "will expose students to a wide range of unfamiliar realities concerning Latin America, Spain, North Africa, and Latinos/as in the United States," says organizer Iliana Pagán-Teitelbaum, assistant professor. "Five films will address globalization, postcolonialism, social inequality, migration, borders, indigenous cultures, racism, sexism, sexual diversity, family relations, body image, and gender. These diverse themes will be discussed before and after film viewings to draw critical connections to our lives in Pennsylvania."

Co-organizer Megan Saltzman, also an assistant professor in the department, will join associate professor Mahmoud Amer to co-host the film Wilaya: Tears of Sand on Oct. 5. That film follows refugees as they return to Algerian refugee camps after many years in Spain. Pagán-Teitelbaum will host the Oct. 12 screening of Southern District, which looks at the complex relationship of high-class Bolivians and their indigenous Aymara servants.

Of note is Brazil's The Second Mother, being shown on Oct. 19. Filmed in Portuguese, it corresponds to the University's first course in that language, taught by Keith Corbitt, assistant professor and supervisor of WCU's Modern Language Teacher Education Program, who has extensive experience with the Portuguese language.

Pragda Spanish Film Club, a film distributor that promotes Spanish and Latin American cinema in regions where access to these films is limited, makes the film festivals possible through grants. The grants cover screening fees as well as the purchase of the films, which will be available at the Mitchell Hall Language Lab after the festival. The festival is put on in collaboration with the Department of Languages and Cultures, University Forum, and the Spanish Club and made possible with the support of Pragda, The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain, and SPAIN Arts and Culture.

A Tumblr site offers both synopses and trailers for each film. There is also a Facebook event page. Pagán-Teitelbaum adds that students will be tweeting about the films in some courses (#CineWCU).

For more information, email Pagán-Teitelbaum (ipagan@wcupa.edu) or Saltzman (msaltzman@wcupa.edu).

Film Festival Schedule
The films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall Room 102​ (675 S. Church St.) each Wednesday from Sept. 28 through Oct. 26. In the schedule below, the director's name follows each film title, as well as the country of origin and year produced, followed by the name of the Languages and Cultures department faculty member hosting that film.

  • 9/28 3 Beauties (Carlos Caridad Montero. Venezuela, 2014). See above. Megan Corbin.
  • 10/5 Wilaya (Pedro Pérez Rosado. Spain, 2012) See above. Mahmoud Amer and Megan Saltzman.
  • 10/12 Southern District (Juan Carlos Valdivia. Bolivia, 2011) See above. Iliana Pagán-Teitelbaum.
  • 10/19 The Second Mother (Anna Muylaert. Brazil, 2015) See above. Daniela Johannes.
  • 10/26 Mr. Kaplan (Dir. Álvaro Brechner. Uruguay, 2014) A comedy about the Jewish community in Uruguay. Jason Bartles.
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