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Latin American Studies showcase Hispanic heritage with film festival

As the Hispanic population grows within the U.S., the importance of equality and cultural understanding has grown with it.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Mexican Consulate in Detroit, the Mexican Heritage Association, LINC, Celebration Cinema and Grand Valley State University’s Latin American Studies hosted the Contemporary Mexican Film Festival.

The festival was split into a three part series, with films shown at different Celebration Cinemas around the Grand Rapids area for three Monday’s in October.

The festival showed “El Estudiante” on Oct. 15, “Espiral” on Oct. 22 and “Flur de Fango” on Oct. 29.
“Flur de Fango,” directed by Guillermo Gonzalez, was the newest film shown, being released in 2011, about a complicated love story between a 14-year-old girl, Marlene, and her new guardian, Augusto.

“The film covered an important topic, it was not just a love story, but also about the problem of women trafficking,” said Zulema Moret, associate professor of Spanish at Grand Valley State University.

Moret said the problem of human trafficking is relevant even in the Grand Rapids area.
Overall though, the event was to cater to the Hispanic community, and to try to integrate cultures.
“This event provided an opportunity for the community, who never have an option, to see a film in their language,” Moret said.

She said it was intended for the Hispanic community “to feel respected and not excluded.”

The event also helps to eliminate stereotypes, according to Moret. She said events like the film festival can provide an opportunity for the Hispanic community to break away from judgments, but also is a learning experience to those who may be hesitant around the community.

To accompany children who attended, the festival showed “Madagascar 3,” “Despicable Me” and “Ice Age,” while their parents watched the other showings.

Moret said the event was beneficial for students to attend, and it taught the students “to understand other cultures, to interact with the community, to help with speaking skills.”
GVSU students, Rachel Laurain and Angie Johnson attended the event for a class, but they appreciated the festival.

Laurain and Johnson agreed that the movie was different, but overall a good film.

“Things like this help open up to those who are different,” Johnson said.

The festival was a good way to integrate those who speak Spanish, and those who speak English, Laurain said.

The GVSU Latin American Studies hosts many events that are free and open to the public, and Moret said they are a great opportunity for people to understand the Hispanic community and culture even further.

To continue the celebration, the Latin American Studies is hosting “Ofrenda – Day of the Dead” Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 from 7-9 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center lobby on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. The workshop is with Mexican artist and Artprize contestant, Rolando Mancera, and is a Hispanic tradition to honor people who have died.

For more information on the events contact areastudies@gvsu.edu or call 616-331-8110.
spendowski@lanthorn.com



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