By Ryan Considine–
Hispanic culture is flourishing in the United States, especially in Louisville. “Reel Ecuador:” Louisville’s 19th Latin American Film festival began on October 18th in Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium. The event organized by the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Al Dia en Amarica, Louisville’s first Hispanic newspaper. It showcased modern Ecuadorian filmmakers in seven feature length films and one documentary, “Descartes.” Award winning directors Fernando Mieles and Mabel Cabrera de Sanchez were available for questioning after their films “Deported” “Descartes” and “Zuquillo Express” were shown.
“Zuquillo Express,” a comedy series that was converted to film in 2010, gained immediate success in Ecuador. Most of the films translate to an American audience because of their independent style elements, but “Zuquillo Express” does not because it was originally made for an Ecuadorian audience. Therefore, when it was shown outside of Ecuador, it presented its viewers with more authenticity.
“It wasn’t really trying to aspire to be like independent films that are everywhere,” said Prof. Melissa Groenewold, Department of Classical and Modern Languages.
In contrast to “Zuquillo Express,” “Deported” was stylistically made for an international audience to spread awareness of social injustices occurring within the United States. Based off Fernando Mieles’ experiences in the United States, Ecuadorian passengers are forced to stay in a European airport while they wait to be deported.
“We do have several students from Ecuador who are in between legal statuses,” said Dr. Manuel Medina, Department of Classical and Modern Languages.
Since several of the characters are undocumented, they continually question their existence. Mieles explained after the film that Hispanic people often feel alienated because of their legal status.By focusing specifically on Ecuador instead of all of Latin America, the festival has been able to gain more international recognition.
All the films are spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, creating a language barrier that could be difficult for students to understand. In addition to the language barrier, the films are independently produced.
“A lot of the students in my class are freshmen and they may not have seen a film that wasn’t a blockbuster before,” said Prof. Melissa Groenewold, Department of Classical and Modern Languages.
Students receive extra credit if they attend three Spanish events for Groenewold’s course, but many chose to attend several screenings beyond the required amount.
“I would’ve gone anyways, but it just so happened to be for extra credit,” said Patton Scott, Junior Geography major.
The 19th Latin American Film Festival closed on Saturday, November 3rd in the Mohammad Ali Center.
Photo courtesy louisville.edu