Campus News

Global Film Series explores Mexican cinema and culture

A still of footwear left behind in sandy soil from Joshua Bonnetta and J.P Sniadecki's "EL MAR LA MAR." Courtesy of The Cinema Guild.

A still from Joshua Bonnetta and J.P Sniadecki's 2017 film "El Mar La Mar." Courtesy of The Cinema Guild.


Published October 2, 2018

“The rich cultural history of Mexico and Mexican cinema should be embraced as the perfect antidote to American anxieties about our Latino neighbors. ”
Tanya Shilina-Conte, assistant professor of global film and media studies
Department of English

With an emphasis on recent U.S.-Mexico border and immigration issues, this year’s riverrun Global Film Series will celebrate Mexican cinema and culture.

The free series will run from Oct. 10-12 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State.

Tanya Shilina-Conte, assistant professor of global film and media studies in the UB Department of English and curator of the Global Film Series, notes the series this year has a special theme of “borders and immigration.”

“In the present political climate of xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment, it seemed imperative to show that borders cannot and should not divide us,” she explains. “We are el pueblo unido, a people united. The rich cultural history of Mexico and Mexican cinema should be embraced as the perfect antidote to American anxieties about our Latino neighbors.”

The Global Film Series seeks to create a dialogue between the local community and institutions of higher education in Buffalo through screenings films that provide a better understanding of our globalized and networked world, according to the series’ organizers.

The series is produced by riverrun, an educational organization that provides cultural programming to the Western New York community, with support from the BPAC, and the UB departments of English and Romance Languages and Literatures.

The series’ keynote speaker is Ignacio Sánchez Prado, professor of Spanish, Latin American studies and film and media studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He will discuss “Mexico’s Contemporary Bi-national Cinema: from Migrations to Co-productions” at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11.

Local film experts and community leaders will introduce films throughout the series, including Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture in UB’s Department of English, and curator of the Buffalo Film Seminars.

Jackson will introduce “Time to Die” (“Tiempo De Morir,” 1966), which will screen at 6 p.m. Oct. 10 as part of the Restored Classics Night I section. Directed by Arturo Ripstein, with the screenplay by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez and novelist Carlos Fuentes, the film tells the story of a former gunman returning to his town who plans to live a quiet life. The sons of a man he killed have other plans. This vintage Mexican western transcends and stretches its genre, according to a description provided by riverrun.

Restored Classics Night II on Oct. 11 will feature “Two Monks” (“Dos Monjes,” 1934), directed by Juan Bustillo Oro. This version of the film, which will begin at 7:45 p.m., was recently restored by American director Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation at the Cineteca di Bologna, Italy. Margarita Vargas, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, will introduce the film.

Elizabeth Scarlett, professor of romance languages and literatures, will introduce the segment titled “Buñuel in Mexico,” featuring the films A Mexican Buñuel” (1995) by Emilio Maillé, and “Simon of the Desert” (“Simón del desierto,” 1965) by Luis Buñuel. The screenings will begin 2 p.m. Oct. 12.

Later on Oct. 12, the series will feature a presentation at 7 p.m. of short films about the U.S.-Mexico border. The screening will be preceded by a spiritual recitation of Mexican poetry by Mara Odette Guerrero-Williams, a Mexican-born gallerist and artist. She created the idea of promoting a multi-pronged organization that would embrace both Buffalo and the Mexican town of Cuernavaca.

Abigail Cooke, assistant professor in the Department of Geography, will join local immigration experts on the Borders and Immigration panel following the film at 9 p.m.

In addition, Shilina-Conte says, the series will feature sections on Mexico and minors (dedicated to the children separated from their parents on the U.S.-Mexico border), and LGBTQ films and women filmmakers.

The film series also features a new children’s workshop at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 12 focusing on the colorful Disney/Pixar movie “Coco” (2017), with music and book readings led by Guerrero-Williams. Children will be encouraged to learn more about their national neighbors and their rich cultural traditions, Shilina-Conte says.

Along with the films, the festival will include music by La Marimba during a happy hour at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the BPAC. There will also be Mexican-inspired cuisine available at the Burchfield Café during the festival.

“If we can change one preconception about Mexico and raise cultural awareness by screening classic and contemporary films that portray the Mexican people through their own lens and not through Hollywood’s,” says Shilina-Conte, “we can take one step across the San Diego/Tijuana, El Paso/Ciudad Juarez, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo border. And then the festival will have been a success.”

The full schedule of events is available on the film series’ website along with the link to the event’s main Facebook page for more information.