Today’s politically charged world can often encourage us to overlook international cultures. This week’s Mexican Film Festival at UC Davis hopes to remind us of the significance of Mexican culture by examining it through the eyes of its people.
The film festival will continue today and Friday at 7 p.m. in Storer 1322. Tonight’s screening, Vámanos con Pancho Villa (1936), which translates to English as “Let’s Go with Pancho Villa,“ tells the story of six peasants who join the Mexican Revolution in order to better their communities.
Tomorrow night’s screening will be of Dos Abrazos, or “Two Embraces.“ This 2007 film tells the personal stories of four people whose lives intersect in different ways. Friday night’s screening is the only one that does not feature English subtitles.
Vámanos con Pancho Villa is especially relevant; the day marks 98 years since the beginning of the revolution to overthrow dictator Porfirio Díaz, said Hemispheric Institute on the Americas program coordinator Christina Siracusa in an e-mail interview.
“[The films] move from the very beginning of the conquest, when Cabeza de Vaca wandered from Florida to Central Mexico, to modern days,“ she said. “Students can expect to see a broad swath of Mexican culture and the Mexican film industry, from historical films to drama and comedy.“
The film festival began on Monday with a screening of Cabeza de Vaca, a 1991 film about the Spanish explorer who founded what is known today as the country of Mexico. This historical adventure was followed by Morirse en domingo (2006) and El Viaje de la Nonna (2007) on Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively, which jumped ahead to present day setting and modern black humor.
Tuesday night’s screening of Morirse en domingo was preceded by a reception and a brief talk by the consul general of Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate, Alejandra Bologna.
Bologna began by mentioning that this is UC Davis‘ inaugural Mexican Film Festival and credited its existence to collaboration with HIA, said Siracusa, who translated the talk from Spanish to English. Bologna then delved into the film industry of Mexico, describing it as a rich art populated with talented directors. She said that she hopes the films continue to be internationally recognized.
HIA worked in conjunction with the consulate to include this festival as part of International Education Week, a series of diversity events held on college campuses across the nation, Siracusa said.
ClubHIA Assistant Program Coordinator and senior international relations major Ava Churchill described the important role this kind of event plays in maintaining and highlighting campus diversity.
“I personally find HIA to be a uniting force across campus because it brings non-Latinos (such as myself) into the sphere of Latino/a culture,” she said in an e-mail interview. “This is precisely why we have events like the Mexican Film Festival. HIA strives to inspire interest in Latin America, especially in those who are not already aware of the Latino/a history and culture.“
Churchill also emphasized the usefulness of film as a medium for communication.
“Cinema is a great tool to convey the richness and eccentricities of different cultures as an alternative to reading dry textbooks,” she said.
The Mexican Film Festival continues today and tomorrow. For more information about the films being screened, visit hia.ucdavis.edu.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.