Hispanic Film Festival screens films topical to the Spanish-speaking world

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When Manuel Gomez, lecturer in the Department of World Languages selected the films to be played at this year’s Hispanic Film Festival, he was looking for movies that addressed a series of social issues facing the world. While he didn’t specifically look for films addressing current American issues, it certainly worked out that way.

The Hispanic Film Festival, which began on Feb. 13 and will run through Feb. 24, showcases films from the Hispanic world that deal with topics relevant to it.

“The first criteria was social issues in the Hispanic world—picking movies from the different countries and Spanish-speaking countries, and also paying attention to the diversity in the Hispanic world, meaning that not only did we play movies in Spanish but the first movie was in Mayan,” Gomez said, referring to the Guatemalan film “Ixcanul, Volcano.” about a Mayan girl who works with her parents on a coffee plantation in the foothills of an active volcano. Maria, the protagonist, is to be married to the plantation overseer but isn’t content with her fate.

Gomez, who is from Spain, chose “Ixcanul, Volcano” to demonstrate that the Spanish- speaking world is broad, with many different cultures and languages. Gomez also notes that all the films have English subtitles.

The first of the final two remaining films of the series is “Illiterate,” which will be showing in Riverfront Hall Room 105 at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. This Chilean film tackles the often unspoken problem of adult illiteracy as an adult woman learns to read in secrecy.

Finally, on Friday, Feb. 24, which marks the end of the festival, “The Travel Agent” will be screened. This Spanish film takes place in Cuba and revolves around a travel agent who organizes trips for Cuban nationals interested in visiting the United States. Although the protagonist is able to walk aspiring travelers through the lengthy screening and visa process imposed by the Cuban Government, she herself has never been able to visit the United States, in spite of the fact that almost all of her family lives there.

“It’s an interesting thing—and it’s sad at the same time—that some movies are from three or four years ago but we’re still talking about these issues. They are not resolved yet,” Gomez said. “I was not looking specifically at the topics though.”

While this is the first Hispanic Film Festival that Gomez has organized for Boise State, he intends to put on more. The Spanish Film Festival was put on with the participation of the Spanish Government as part of a heritage program they provide to colleges around the United States, as well as the Idaho Film Collection.

Although this is the first time that Gomez has planned a film festival, it’s not his first time planning a heritage-related event.

“This is a second interest in my professional career, —promoting cultural organizations, and organizing exhibitions and literary recitals,” Gomez said.

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