Chilean film screened in Doundna

Hispanic heritage month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th, and several groups around campus collaborated to screen the Oscar winning film, Una Mujer Fantastica (A fantastic woman), in celebration.

“It’s an exciting collaboration with the English department, Spanish department, Latino Student union, and the Doyle Center,” Interim Dean of LAE Melissa Gormley said.

Una Mujer Fantastica won the 2017 Oscar for best foreign language film of the year and “many things were done well and showed a great amount of care in a well-crafted way,” Coordinator for the Doyle Center Emily Stier said.

“I had heard rave reviews of the film, and I thought it would be a good film for campus because it complicates identities while affirming them. It is both a Chilean film about a specific culture and place. It is also a film about the challenges faced by Transgender individuals. I thought it would provide many avenues for discussion. Emily and Chris (and later Melissa Gormley) were all very eager to participate in the showing and panel,” Dr. Pip Gordan said.

The film mainly addressed grief, but through the lens of an openly transgender woman living in modern-day Santiago, Chile.

“In the Latino community, especially in South America, coming out is really hard and this movie will explain the difficulties of people in the LGBTQ+ community in Latin culture,” president of the Latino student union and sophomore biology major Andye Valencia said.

The film depicted the difficult emotions and experiences experienced by the transgender protagonist, who was played by an openly transgender actress named Daniela Vega, as she deals with the death of her long-term boyfriend. “It was more mature role, it didn’t count on laughs” Professor Chris Schulenburg said.

The movie was filmed and takes place in Chile but the plot uses the universal themes of grief and the modern view of transgender people to tell a global story. The film raised questions of identity and sexuality and, “these questions didn’t draw lines between cultures and I’m glad the film addressed that,” Stier said.

“Events like this are necessary for our campus because they help students engage with experiences that they might not yet have encountered. My primary goal for this film is the same as my goal for all the events I help coordinate on campus. I want students to have an opportunity to learn,” Gordan said. “Although we are a rural campus with a largely white, heterosexual, and cisgender student population, so one might think that a film like this one would prove difficult to show, I have always found that our campus and the surrounding community is very open to opportunities to explore narratives from other cultures and that challenge our received ideas of sexual orientation and gender identity. I have so far only received positive feedback for events like this one.”

The themes and overall message that the film conveyed appeared to be beneficial and widely accepted by the students, staff, and community members who attended the event. This learning experience provided them with an opportunity to view and understand a lifestyle that might be drastically different then the one they are living.