Spanish film festival celebrates cinema

Emma Austin

The department of modern languages kicked off a Spanish film festival this week, showing contemporary movies from Spanish-speaking countries. 

In a partnership with the dean’s office of Potter College of Arts and Letters, WKU libraries and the WKU Spanish club.

The festival includes screenings of five different films. The first showing was Monday; the final will be on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The selection includes films from Venezuela, Spain, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia.

“I’m hoping for students to have a wider understanding of culture,” Sonia Lenk, associate Spanish professor who introduced Tuesday night’s film, said. “I think it’s important to get exposure to other films that are not mainstream.”

The films were acquired through Pragda, a distributor of Iberoamerican films to universities for public showings to promote language and culture education.

Brain Coutts, department head of library public services, said he had received emails from Pragda last year about the grant they offered to universities; once WKU was able to raise $1,250, Pragda matched the price to fund a selection of five films to be featured throughout the month.

Coutts reached out to Inmaculada Pertusa, Spanish professor, for help writing the grant to send to Pragda. Pertusa spearheaded the project, he said; the two worked together to fundraise the money needed to receive the grant match.

“The endeavor was to appeal to Western students to try to get a differing perspective,” Coutts said. Another goal was to broaden the appeal to people off-campus as well, he added.

Spanish professor Melissa Stewart said the festival is a great opportunity for not only students, but also for the Bowling Green community.

“These are really contemporary films,” Stewart said. “People can enjoy them and get a lot out of them; they don’t seem really obscure.”

All come from Hispanic countries, she said, and are films students would otherwise not have an opportunity to see.

Generally, films from other countries have a much lower budget than Hollywood films, which are typically produced for entertainment purposes only, Lenk said. Hispanic films often focus on certain ideas or social issues, she explained.

“Other countries have interesting ways to turn very interesting pieces that gives you a different perspective on life,” Lenk said. “They make pretty amazing things. It is a completely different perspective and way of presenting, I think, that gives us a different understanding of ourselves and the world.”

The festival’s first film, “3 Bellezas,” or “3 Beauties,” told the story of a mother who puts forth unlimited efforts to fulfill her childhood obsession of becoming a beauty queen by living through her two daughters in a “scathing satire of Venezuela’s fixation with beauty and its relation to social status,” according to the description on Pragda’s website.

The second film, “El País del Miedo,” or “The Country of Fear,” showed Tuesday night and told the story of a child’s experience with bully and how it affected his family.

Louisville sophomore Andi Dahmer said she noticed a difference between “El País del Miedo” and American cinema in the way it lacked emphasis on a happy ending.

“From a cinematic perspective, I thought it was really interesting that as the main character’s paranoia grew, the style of filming became more dissociated,” she said. “I thought that really added something I’m not sure you’d see in American cinema.”

Dahmer said she would recommend students attend the festival’s final two screenings, which are scheduled to play on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

“I think that it’s really important to take advantage of this amazing cultural opportunity while it’s here at WKU,” she said. “I think it will be really cool to see different countries as they’re represented through film.”

The festival is free of charge and open to the public. Each screening is located in Mass Media Auditorium at 6 p.m.

Reporter Emma Austin can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emmacaustin.