Hispanic Film Series starts Jan. 27 at Missouri S&T

The Spanish program in the arts, languages, and philosophy department at Missouri University of Science and Technology will present its third Hispanic Film Series during the spring semester at Missouri S&T. This event is open to the public and free of charge. The series consists of five films presented at 7 p.m. Fridays. All films are in Spanish or Portuguese with English subtitles.

The series kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, with a screening of “Even the Rain,” a story about the privatization of the public water, including the rain, which was pushed by the Bolivian government in 2000. The film will be screened in Room G-5 Humanities-Social Sciences Building on the Missouri S&T campus.

“Filmmaker Sebastian and his cynical producer Costa arrive in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to make a film about Columbus’ voyage to the New World and the subjugation of the indigenous population,” says Dr. Jorge Porcel, associate professor of Spanish linguistics at S&T and director of the festival. “Just as filming begins, the natives face a crisis when the government privatizes the water company and prices skyrocket. Daily protests erupt and the local man cast as a rebellious 16th century Taino chief also becomes a leader in the water hike protests. Bollaín intercuts footage of Sebastian’s film with recordings of the demonstrations that occurred during the real-life ‘water wars’ that took place.”

The second film in the series, “3 Beauties,” will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, in room G-5 Humanities-Social Sciences Building.

“‘3 Beauties’ is a darkish comedy, from the country that boasts over 600 beauty pageants each year,” Porcel says. “The film presents a scathing satire of Venezuela’s fixation with beauty and its relation to social status. Perla is the single mother of two competitive daughters, products of her own unfulfilled childhood obsession to become a beauty queen, and a son whom she completely ignores. As the years pass, Perla’s unlimited efforts to achieve her dream through her ‘two princesses’ transforms everyone’s lives into a nightmare.”

The third film in the series, “Here and There,” winner of the top prize at the Critics’ Week section of the Cannes Film Festival, will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday, March 10, in Room 104 Physics Building at Missouri S&T.

“‘Here and There’ is Antonio Méndez Esparza’s directorial debut, and it radiantly captures the complex homecoming of a loving father,” Porcel says. “In an unexpected take on the traditional immigrant story, Pedro returns home to a small mountain village in Guerrero, Mexico, after years of working in New York. He finds his daughters older and more distant than he imagined; his wife still has the same smile. The villagers think this year’s crop will be bountiful and there is work in a growing city nearby. But the locals are wise to a life of insecurity, and their thoughts are often of family members or opportunities far away, north of the border.”

The fourth film in the series, “The Second Mother,” will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday, April 7, in Room G-5 Humanities-Social Sciences Building.

“‘The Second Mother’ dissects with both impeccable precision and humor such matters as class differences and family,” Porcel says. “The film centers around Val, a hard-working live-in housekeeper in modern day Sao Paulo. Val (portrayed by Regina Casé) is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers’ needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son, whom she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val’s estranged daughter Jessica suddenly shows up, the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means.”

The series concludes with a screening of “Ixcanul, Volcano” at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, in Room G-5 Humanities-Social Sciences Building. “Ixcanul, Volcano” is Guatemala’s official entry to the Academy Awards.

“Brilliantly directed by its debutant Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante, the movie is a mesmerizing fusion of fact and fable, a dreamlike depiction of the daily lives of Kaqchikel-speaking Mayans on a coffee plantation at the base of an active volcano,” Porcel says. “Immersing us in its characters’ customs and beliefs, Ixcanul chronicles with unblinking realism, a disappearing tradition and a disappearing people. Maria, a 17-year-old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on the plantation. Her parents have promised her hand in marriage to Ignacio, the plantation overseer. But Maria doesn’t sit back and accept her destiny. Pepe, a young coffee cutter who plans to migrate to the U.S., becomes her possible way out. Maria seduces Pepe in order to run away with him, but after promises and clandestine meetings, Pepe takes off, leaving her pregnant, alone and in disgrace. There’s no time to lose for Maria’s mother, who thinks abortion is the only solution. Yet despite her mother’s ancestral knowledge, the baby remains, “destined to live.” But destiny has more in store for Maria: a snakebite forces them to leave immediately in search of a hospital. The modern world Maria has so dreamt about will save her life, but at what price?”

The Missouri S&T Hispanic Film Series is presented thanks to the generosity of its sponsors:  Pragda; Spain Arts and Culture; Dr. Steven Roberts, vice provost and dean of the Missouri S&T College of Arts, Sciences, and Business; U.S. Department of Education UISFL Program; and Dr. Audra Merfeld-Langston, chair of arts, languages, and philosophy.

For more information, contact the arts, language and philosophy department at 573-341-4869 or email Porcel at porcelj@mst.edu.