Thursday, Sept. 15, Interim Coordinator of Multicultural Programming and Residential Communities Stephanie Collins held a film festival to showcase Latino and Hispanic heritage. Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and the Residence Life in the Office of Multicultural Affairs wanted to have a running start to this special month.
First-year Aileen Burke spoke about how the festival corresponded with this month. “I thought that Stephanie did an excellent job facilitating a very intelligent and pertinent discussion on Hispanic heritage,” Burke said. “The range of material was fantastic.”
During the festival, three short films about the Hispanic lifestyle were showcased. In between the films, there were discussions which incorporated the audience members. The films were “El Doctor,” “You’re Dead to Me” and “Border Bedazzlers.”
“These three seem to hit on the most recent issues. People can’t get jobs with their credentials from home. LGBTQ life through a Mexican-American. Seeing issues up front related to the border crisis,” Collins said.
In America today, these three topics are common talking points. There is discrimination against Hispanics and Latinos, especially in mainstream media like television and film. Hispanics and Latinos are usually portrayed as maids and gardeners or drug dealers and gangsters.
“This festival really presented the issues that you know are there but are hidden by society,” senior Samantha Fellner said.
One focus of this festival was the difference between Latinos and Hispanics – words that many Americans use interchangeably. “Latino” refers to those from Latin America or who are of Latin American descent, while “Hispanic” refers to Spanish-speaking people.
The film “El Doctor” presented the stereotype of the language barrier that if people are Hispanic or Latino, they do not know English. The moral of this film was that people should not make assumptions about someone’s ability to speak English. Another idea explored in this film was that even though one Hispanic character was a doctor in his hometown, his credentials were not valid in America. Despite this, he used his skills to help the man for whom he worked.
As stated earlier, media representation has an influence on the way people see others and the way they see themselves. When young children watch television and movies, they expect to see people like them. Unfortunately, many Hispanic and Latino children do not see themselves represented.
“Border Bedazzlers” presented the idea that art is the best way to get a message across. The artists portrayed in this film traveled to the Mexican side of the border to paint with children. These children painted whatever they wanted on the border wall. They showed their feelings through their paintings and gave a message to everyone – pay attention.
The final film, “You’re Dead to Me,” took a deep look into the LGBTQ community. During the Day of the Dead celebration, a mother tries to contact her deceased daughter and the spirit of her child comes back as a son. The woman’s child was transgender in life, which is something the mother doesn’t want to accept.
At the end of the festival, Collins presented the audience with a challenge. She told the audience to go out and look for some form of art such as television, movies, music and paintings which incorporate things that were created by Hispanics themselves.
“I want people to see there are different ways to represent people,” Collins stated. “Their lens is not the only way they can see life through.”