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Latin American Studies Film Series Returns to CSULB on Oct. 1

Published: October 1, 2009

The Latin American Studies Film Series returns to CSULB on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the William Link Theatre (formerly the University Theatre) and continues on Thursdays (Oct. 8, 22 and 29) at 7 p.m. with the theme “Crossing Borders.” All films are 35mm prints with English subtitles.

“The theme of ‘Crossing Borders’ refers not only to geographical boundaries but also moving our thinking into new territories,” said series director José Sánchez-H., who joined Film and Electronic Arts in 1988. “Borders are places where we encounter other people, cultures and ideas. By crossing borders, we can be changed by these encounters.”

The Latin American Studies Film Series is a yearly free event presented by the Film and Electronic Arts Department, the Latin American Studies Program, and the Romance, German, Russian, Languages and Literatures Department, in collaboration with various organizations inside and outside the university including the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, and the Museum of Latin American Art.

On Thursday, Oct. 1, “El Argentino (The Argentine),” directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-produced by Benicio del Toro playing the role of Ché, opens the film series. On Nov. 26, 1956, Fidel Castro embarks towards Cuba with 80 rebels. One of them is Ernesto “Ché” Guevara, an Argentine medical doctor who shares an objective with the Cuban leader – to overthrow the corrupt tyranny of Fulgencio Batista. Ché becomes indispensable and quickly masters the art of guerrilla warfare. Devoted to the struggle, he is acclaimed by his comrades and by the Cuban people. This film follows Ché’s ascending journey inside the Cuban Revolution, going from medical doctor to commander and revolutionary hero. This film runs 131 minutes.

The second film of the series is on Thursday, Oct. 8. “Guerrilla,” was directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-produced by Benicio del Toro who won best actor at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Ché. With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Ché is at the peak of his fame and power. Then he disappears, surfacing incognito in Bolivia where he organizes a guerrilla army with a group of Cubans and Bolivians to initiate a Latin American revolution. The history of the Bolivian campaign is a statement of tenacity, sacrifice, idealism and struggle that finally fails, taking Ché to his death. Through him, we come to understand why he continues to be a symbol of idealism and heroism in the hearts of the people all over the world. This film runs 131 minutes.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, the series continues with a preserved classic film from Argentina, “Cita en la Frontera (Encounter on the Border),” directed by Mario Soffici. International Argentine movie star Libertad Lamarque, known as “the bride of America” and “the Lady of Tango,” stars in this musical film about a love triangle, which belongs to the tango genre. As in her other films, Lamarque sings songs that kept her audience captivated for generations. Cita en la frontera is considered to be Lamarque’s best known Argentine film. She also made films in Spain, as well as in Mexico where she lived for more than 50 years.

This is a new 35mm print created by the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, and the Department of Film and Electronic Arts at CSULB. This film runs 90 minutes.

Sánchez-H. explains that one reason for the selection of “Cita en la Frontera” was the way it represents the Film and Electronic Arts Department’s on-going collaboration on film preservation and restoration with the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences™. “The other films were selected to illuminate history and current events and to provide challenging and stimulating topics for discussion and learning,” he said.

“These days technology allows us to watch movies practically anywhere, but the experience of seeing a 35mm film in a movie theater is unique,” said Sánchez-H.

The last film of the series arrives on Thursday, Oct. 29. A drama from Mexico directed by Walter Doehner, “El viaje de Teo (Teo’s Journey)” tells the story of 10-year-old Teo who goes on a journey searching for his father whom he lost on the U.S.-Mexico border. To cross the desert and its perils, he finds strength in a friendship with a teenage boy. This film runs 90 minutes.

“Audiences have the opportunity to better appreciate the images created by the filmmakers and be captivated by the stories they tell. At the film series each year, we also showcase a 35mm print of a restored/preserved Latin American film. This experience provides students with an opportunity to look into a cinema that has a lot of historical value, because these restored/preserved films are in some cases the only prints available today. Cinema is the best way to engage people to talk about other cultures and themes that are perhaps unfamiliar to some. Everybody likes to hear stories, and in that process you can become more sensitive to that particular human being in the story you are watching.”

Sanchez-H. encourages the university and surrounding community to attend this year’s series. “Building on the success of the screening series in previous years, this year’s series provides audiences with exposure to additional countries, cultures and issues,” he said.

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