Film has always provided a lens through which people can explore new worlds and cultures. The films that make up California State University, Northridge’s spring Cinematheque series offer the public a chance to experience the diverse, artistic expressions of Latin culture through the eyes of its filmmakers.
The series, “LatinAuteur,” spans several genres — dark comedy, thriller, drama, musical and fantasy, as well as feminist and queer cinema — and brings to CSUN’s Elaine and Alan Armer Screening Room a number of works rarely seen on the big screen.
“These are films that I don’t think a lot of young people know of,” said film professor Dianah Wynter, curator of the series. “I was teaching a class on classic filmmakers and one on aesthetics when I decided to add two films by director Gregory Nava, ‘El Norte’ and ‘My Family.’ The impact on the students was palpable. That’s when I realized that it’s time for us to do film series in Spanish.”
Wynter, a veteran television and film director, partnered with assistant professor of television Alessandro Jacchia, a veteran television producer in Europe, to create the “LatinAuteur” series. Among the works they chose are films by Luis Buñuel, Pedro Almodóvar, Carlos Saura, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, Julie Taymor and Patricia Martinez de Velazco.
The unifying theme of the series is “freedom of expression,” Wynter said.
Associate curator Jacchia noted that many of the filmmakers had to find creative ways to make the movies they wanted in light of government officials who didn’t always support unfettered artistic expression. Jacchia pointed to Spanish filmmaker Saura as an example.
“He had been trying to make subtle films of protest, filled with symbolism that hopefully escaped the notice of the authorities,” he said.
Wynter said the films chosen for “LatinAuteur” explore freedom of expression “both in terms of narrative discourse and in the historical context in which many of them were made.”
CSUN’s Cinematheque series is free and open the public every Wednesday night from now through May 15 in the Elaine and Alan Armer Screening Room, room 100, in Manzanita Hall. Manzanita Hall is located near the southwest corner of the campus near Nordhoff Street and Darby Avenue. The screenings begin at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Cinematheque will screen Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s “Tacones Lejanos (High Heels),” the story of a woman who returns home after 15 years to discover her daughter has married one of her mother’s ex-lovers.
“Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus)” will screen Feb. 20. The film, by director Marcel Camus, depicts the romantic Greek myth of Ovid’s Orpheus and Eurydice, as retold against the backdrop of Rio de Janeiro’s wild, intoxicating Carnival.
The CSUN Cinematheque is an innovative, year-round film screening program housed in the Elaine and Alan Armer Screening Room, a state-of-the-art 130-seat motion picture theater on the CSUN campus. The only event of its kind in the San Fernando Valley, the Cinematheque presents thematically designed retrospective classic films as well as aesthetically significant contemporary releases in conjunction with appearances of featured guest artists for lectures and panel discussions.
For a complete list of the “LatinAurteur” films and screening dates or more information about the Cinematheque series, visit movies.csun.edu.