A monthly series of film screenings linking academic research areas in the University of Liverpool’s Department of Modern Languages with rarely-shown Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American films opened on Thursday 13 October at Liverpool Small Cinema on Victoria Street. The first film to be screened was También la lluvia (Even the Rain, 2010), introduced by Dr Şizen Yiacoup, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, who also led a Q+A session after the screening. Here, Dr Yiacoup tells us a bit more about the film and the event in our own Q+A.
So Şizen, what’s the film about?
The film is by Spanish director Icíar Bollaín and tells the story of Mexican director Sebastián (played by Gael García Bernal) and executive producer Costa (Luís Tosar), who travel to Bolivia to shoot a film depicting Christopher Columbus’s conquest of the New World.
Sebastián and Costa unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of a moral and political crisis when they and their crew arrive at Cochabamba, Bolivia, during the intensifying 2000 Cochabamba Water War, which their key native actor, Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) persistently leads.
How does your research relate to the film?
My research and teaching focus on cultural exchange and conflict between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the medieval and early modern Hispanic world. In the Q+A session, we discussed several topics, including the reasons behind Columbus’s first voyage to the New World, the ongoing marginalisation of indigenous peoples in the present day, and the privatisation of national services and industry in Latin America as well as in Britain.
Having an understanding of the problematic process of political unification and internal colonisation which took place in Spain and the ways in which these drove the Spanish imperial project in the New World allows us a much deeper insight into the problems that have troubled Latin American society ever since. The ways in which the control of natural resources and human labour were sought and imposed in the colonial period manifest themselves repeatedly in the modern era through issues such as land rights, the privatisation of water, and access to decent housing, health care and education for marginalised groups, namely indigenous peoples.
How did the Q+A session go?
I’m really delighted that there was such a strong turnout for the film and that so many people in the audience stayed for the Q&A session, which was incredibly lively and thought-provoking. A very big thank you to everyone who contributed towards making it such a fantastic and interesting evening.
‘IBLAS Talks Film’ continues on 3 November, when Dr Niamh Thornton, a specialist in Mexican film, literature and digital culture introduces Alex Rivera’s 2008 production Sleep Dealer. For more information, go to http://liverpoolsmallcinema.org.uk/events.