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Summer 1993, Image courtesy of Pragda films

Hispanic Studies PhD student organises virtual Ibero-American film festival on the child’s gaze

From the beginning of February until mid-March 2021, a series of educational film screenings and discussions were held virtually as part of the Screening the Child: Spanish Film Club on the subject of the child’s gaze in Spanish language cinema. The film festival was organised and curated by PhD student in Hispanic Studies, Rachel Beaney.

The festival was organised in partnership with Pragda Spanish Film Club, the modern languages departments of both Cardiff University and the University of Exeter with the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s South West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda, The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain, and SPAIN arts & culture. 

Exeter Modern Languages and Cultures was able to provide funding for the festival along with additional funding thanks to the Researcher-led Initiatives funding from University of Exeter Doctoral college

The festival brought together five films that feature a child protagonist: The Country of Fear / El país del miedo (2015), Black Bread / Pa negre (2011), Summer 1993 / Estiu 1993 (2017), Bad Hair / Pelo malo (2013) and I, girl / Yo, niña (2018).

Every event in the series was open to all with the intention of bringing Spanish and Latin American cinema to students, staff, cinephiles and school pupils in the South West and Wales; to make cinema more accessible by making it free of charge to participate in; to create discussion around children, sexuality, race, politics, and socio-cultural issues and how cinema portrays these elements of our lives whilst foregrounding the child protagonist and their subjectivity.

In the films presented, the child character experiences political, social, and cultural change. The filmmakers foreground the perspective of the child character to present and reframe historical events, family dynamics, and societal transformations. Each film was available to watch for one week and this was supported with a Q&A Zoom discussion on selected films with academics and cinephiles.

More than 478 individuals registered to attend the film festival from around 135 different institutions. All of the discussions were well attended and, as a result of holding them, Rachel has been able to create asynchronous resources about the films on the School of Modern Languages’ YouTube channel. She has also produced a review of the film festival.

Overall, the festival was a very positive experience to be able to offer during lockdown which enabled colleagues, students and cinephiles to connect and discuss the films. Moving forwards, Rachel is currently thinking about how to improve her work in outreach, widening participation and schools engagement.

Date: 24 March 2021

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