Hispanic Heritage Month Begins Monday at Ole Miss

Hispanic Heritage Month
“Carnaval, San Francisco, California”. (Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, 2012 -Library of Congress)

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will present five contemporary films from Spanish-speaking countries and conduct panel discussions and a “Latin Dancing with The Stars,” among other events, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month on campus beginning Monday,  Sept. 1.

The second installment of the “Hispanic Heritage Series,” the featured films all have English subtitles. The screenings are slated for Room 200 of the FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center, and all are free and open to the public.

“This series aims to promote an understanding of our global community,” said Carmen Sánchez, a UM modern languages instructor and one of the event’s organizers.

The group is pleased to offer opportunities to view these films “that would otherwise not be available to our community,” said Irene Kaufmann, UM lecturer in Spanish

The following Hispanic Heritage Month events are scheduled on campus:

– Monday (Sept. 19), 4 p.m., Student Union, Room 404 – Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff and opening lecture. Members of the UM community are invited to share Hispanic culture, life and influences.

– Thursday (Sept. 22), noon, Student Union Plaza – “Latin Dancing With The Stars” and “Union Unplugged.” At 5:30 p.m. in Bryant Hall, Room 209, a discussion titled “What Does Columbus Day Mean Now?” will cover the history of Columbian commemorations in the United States and the development of Hispanic Heritage Month.

– Friday (Sept. 23), noon, Lamar Hall, Room 555 – “Spanglish Reflections & Nuyorican Dreams: Latinos in the U.S. South.” This self-reflective talk features documentary photography that will take the audience on a cultural journey.

– Sept. 29, 6 p.m. – “Chico Y Rita” (“Chico and Rita”), directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. This animated film features Cuban music and American jazz. Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba (“The Age of Beauty”) and famous Barcelona designer and artist Javier Mariscal have teamed up to make an animated love story that features the music, culture and people of Cuba. Chico is a dashing piano player and Rita is an enchanting and beautiful Havana nightclub singer. An epic romance unfolds as the pair travels the glamorous stages of 1940s and ’50s Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Paris.

– Oct. 6, 6 p.m. – “El Esclavo de Dios” (“God’s Slave”), directed by Joel Novoa. Based on the actual events of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, winner at many film festivals, this film follows Ahmed, trained since childhood as an Islamic terrorist and assigned to execute a suicide bomb at a synagogue; and David, a cold-blooded Israeli special agent who will stop at nothing to prevent the attack. But neither man is defined solely by his extremist views. Ahmed, posing as a doctor, lives happily with his wife and young son; though David’s marriage is on the rocks, he remains devoted to his wife and daughter. With time running out before the attack, David zeros in on Ahmed as a suspect, his investigation culminating in violent, if unexpected, consequences.

– Oct. 13, 4 p.m., Bryant Hall, Room 209 – “Embracing Experiences” panel discussion. Members of the UM community share their stories about Hispanic and Latin American culture and heritage.

– Oct. 13, 6 p.m. – “Ixcanul,” directed by Jayro Bustamante. The film was Guatemala’s official entry to the Academy Awards. The story takes place in the heart of a Kaqchikel Mayan community in contemporary times and is a favorite with younger audiences. Maria, a 17-year-old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on a coffee plantation in the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her. Her parents have promised her to Ignacio, the plantation overseer. But Maria doesn’t sit back and accept her destiny.

– Nov. 10, 6 p.m. – “El Libertador” (“The Liberator”), directed by Albert Arvelo. The most expensive Latin American film ever produced, this movie profiles Simon Bolivar, the man who led Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Peru and Ecuador toward independence. The movie was shortlisted with other eight titles for the Best Foreign Academy Award. Rising Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez stars in this biopic of one of Latin America’s greatest figures, who fought more than 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America and rode some 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of those of Alexander the Great.

– Nov. 17, 6 p.m. – “Todos Se Van” (“Everyone Leaves”), directed by Sergio Cabrera. The movie is a celebration of freedom and a confrontation of the authoritarian Cuban regime of the 1980s, which led to one of the country’s worst economic crises. It’s based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Cuban writer Wendy Guerra. Eight-year-old Nieve is the object of her parents’ custody battle. Through her diary entries, Nieve reveals intimate details of a turbulent family life while painting a portrait of the social and political unrest in Cuba during a difficult time for the Castro regime.

The film series is made possible with the support of Pragda, the Spanish Film Club.com, SPAIN Arts and Culture, and the Secretary of State for the Culture of Spain. Locally, it is sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, and Alpha Lambda Delta.

Other sponsors for the month’s events include the UM College of Liberal Arts and its departments of English, History, Political Science, and Sociology and Anthropology; the college’s interdisciplinary cinema studies minor program; the Croft Institute for International Studies; FedEx Student-Athlete Academic Support Center; Sarah Isom Center for Gender and Women’s Studies; and the Oxford Film Festival.

Organizers hope to build on last year’s success, said Diane E. Marting, associate professor of modern languages.

“After our success last year, we wanted to bring more films to campus,” Marting said. “There is such a diversity of peoples and cultures in Spanish America, and in these films one can see a little bit of that variety.”

By Michael Newsom

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