Events feature Latino-American films, Latino art and cultureBy Melissa Mitchell, News Bureau Staff Writer
A variety of campus arts-related activities planned this month will focus attention on the culture and cultural identities of Latinos as well as on people living in various Latin American countries.
Among the events opening April 4 is the second annual Latin American Film Festival, organized by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies with collaboration and support from Boardman’s Art Theater in downtown Champaign. The festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the theater with a screening of “The Violin.” The 2006 Mexican film, directed by Francisco Vargas, chronicles the activities of humble farmer-musicians who surreptitiously support a homegrown guerrilla movement. Also showing later that evening, at 9:45, is “Cocalero,” a 2007 documentary on the grassroots campaign of Bolivian president Evo Morales that is the directorial debut of Alejandro Landes.
The festival continues through April 10.
Other featured films include “The Aura,” a 2005 thriller directed by the Argentine filmmaker Fabián Bielinsky, who died in 2006; “Alice’s House,” a 2007 film about domestic drama by Brazilian director Chico Teixeira; and “Madeinusa,” Peruvian director Claudia Llosa’s depiction of how life in a remote mountain village suddenly changes with the arrival of an outsider.
“All of the films have been awarded prestigious national and international prizes and have never been shown in commercial movie theaters locally,” said festival coordinator Angelina Cotler, associate director of the UI center.
Cotler said the festival was designed “with the goal of strengthening and disseminating knowledge of the cultural diversity and creativity of the Latin American region.”
Also opening April 4 at 7 p.m. is the exhibition “Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/Latino Artists” at Krannert Art Museum.
The exhibition, initiated by Lambda Theta Phi Fraternidad Latina Incorporada and UI art history professor Oscar Vazquez as a response to culturally insensitive fraternity-sorority parties that have occurred on campus in the past, features art by a group of mostly Chicago-based artists: Miguel Cortez, Gisela Insuaste, Paul Sierra, Edra Soto and Gabriel Villa. Also exhibiting is UI anthropology professor Alejandro Lugo.
Works on view explore perspectives of the immigrant and non-immigrant experience in an effort to understand underlying cultural issues, and focus on themes ranging from family separation resulting from migration to personal identity crises.
The exhibition is organized by the museum’s visiting curator Judith Hoos Fox.
Said Fox: “This is work that is about living in the world today.”
An opening reception for the exhibition will take place in conjunction with the museum’s “Son of ARTzilla” late-night party from 7-11 p.m. The reception and party will feature food and performances by the UI Latin Jazz Ensemble and Miami-based artist Kiki Valdes, known for his ability to draw inspiration from live music and transform it into art on the spot.
The “Landscapes” exhibition will be on view at the museum through July 27.
Continuing on campus through April 21 will be a residency by Guatemalan weaver and activist Magda Silvia Sotz Mux. The multi-talented Mux coordinates activities of a midwifery cooperative in San Juan Comalapa; teaches the indigenous Kaqchikel language and coordinates a Kaqchikel literacy program; and serves as field manager of Wuqu’ Kawoq, a nonprofit organization working to develop first-language medical resources in Guatemala and promote cultural and linguistic revitalization movements.
Mux has been a scholar-in-residence at the UI since March 19. During her residency, sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Spurlock Museum, Mux has sought to raise awareness of the Maya language, culture and health-care issues.
One of her weavings – a shirt with brilliantly colored flowers – was commissioned by the Spurlock Museum and is featured in the exhibit “Qak’aslem, Qakem: Kaqchikel Maya Weavings,” in the museum’s Campbell Lobby. The exhibit, on display through June 8, also features two other examples of woven Maya textiles representing two other villages from Guatemala’s Kaqchikel-speaking region.
Several other events are planned in conjunction with Mux’s visit – on campus and in the community – in April. They include lectures as well as public weaving demonstrations at Spurlock from 10 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3:30 p.m. on April 12, and 10 a.m.-noon on April 19.
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