Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
73°
Cloudy
Hi 88° | Lo 59°

Now in its 20th year, the UMass Multicultural Film Festival is going strong

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>"The Wild Ones" follows the lives of a trio of troubled Catalan teens.

    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL
    "The Wild Ones" follows the lives of a trio of troubled Catalan teens. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. A poster promoting the festival hangs on the wall behind her.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. A poster promoting the festival hangs on the wall behind her.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. In her hands is a poster promoting the festival.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. In her hands is a poster promoting the festival.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival, says she started the event 20 years ago as a way to showcase the abundance of fine films that are made internationally. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Catherine Portuges, the curator of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival, says she started the event 20 years ago as a way to showcase the abundance of fine films that are made internationally.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>A scene from "The Wild Ones," a film in Spanish and Catalan, with English subtitles, that will be shown March 6 as part of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival. Director Patricia Ferreira will be on hand for a Q & A following the screening.

    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL
    A scene from "The Wild Ones," a film in Spanish and Catalan, with English subtitles, that will be shown March 6 as part of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival. Director Patricia Ferreira will be on hand for a Q & A following the screening. Purchase photo reprints »

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>Àlex Monner won a Best Supporting Actor award at the Malaga Film Festival and a Best Actor award at the 2013 Gaudi Awards of the Catalan Cinema Academy for his role in "The Wild Ones."

    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL
    Àlex Monner won a Best Supporting Actor award at the Malaga Film Festival and a Best Actor award at the 2013 Gaudi Awards of the Catalan Cinema Academy for his role in "The Wild Ones." Purchase photo reprints »

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>The director of "The Wild Ones," Patricia Ferreira, created "a very real atmosphere," says UMass professor Jordi Dosaiguas, who once taught high school in Spain. “It shows how we forget about the simple things, to ask how our son or daughter’s day was, to find out what is going on at school."

    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL
    The director of "The Wild Ones," Patricia Ferreira, created "a very real atmosphere," says UMass professor Jordi Dosaiguas, who once taught high school in Spain. “It shows how we forget about the simple things, to ask how our son or daughter’s day was, to find out what is going on at school." Purchase photo reprints »

  • A poster promoting the multicultural film festival at UMass sits on a table in Herter Annex in Amherst on Friday, February 1, 2013. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A poster promoting the multicultural film festival at UMass sits on a table in Herter Annex in Amherst on Friday, February 1, 2013.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Russian native Julia Lima sings the role ofArmida.

    Russian native Julia Lima sings the role ofArmida. Purchase photo reprints »

  • "The Armida Project" melds traditional operatic costumes with funky modern details.

    "The Armida Project" melds traditional operatic costumes with funky modern details. Purchase photo reprints »

  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>"The Wild Ones" follows the lives of a trio of troubled Catalan teens.
  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. A poster promoting the festival hangs on the wall behind her.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of a multicultural film festival at UMass poses for a portrait on Friday, February 1, 2013. In her hands is a poster promoting the festival.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Catherine Portuges, the curator of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival, says she started the event 20 years ago as a way to showcase the abundance of fine films that are made internationally. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>A scene from "The Wild Ones," a film in Spanish and Catalan, with English subtitles, that will be shown March 6 as part of the UMass Multicultural Film Festival. Director Patricia Ferreira will be on hand for a Q & A following the screening.
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>Àlex Monner won a Best Supporting Actor award at the Malaga Film Festival and a Best Actor award at the 2013 Gaudi Awards of the Catalan Cinema Academy for his role in "The Wild Ones."
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UMASS MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL<br/>The director of "The Wild Ones," Patricia Ferreira, created "a very real atmosphere," says UMass professor Jordi Dosaiguas, who once taught high school in Spain. “It shows how we forget about the simple things, to ask how our son or daughter’s day was, to find out what is going on at school."
  • A poster promoting the multicultural film festival at UMass sits on a table in Herter Annex in Amherst on Friday, February 1, 2013. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Russian native Julia Lima sings the role ofArmida.
  • "The Armida Project" melds traditional operatic costumes with funky modern details.

It’s local. It’s international. And it’s free.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Multicultural Film Festival, now screening on the UMass campus, offers cultural diversity and ethnic breadth.

“Challenging films that promote discussion, make people think, and are not mainstream American cinema. That’s what our audience wants,” said Catherine Portuges, the festival’s founder, curator and director.

This year, in celebration of it’s 20th anniversary, the festival, which began Feb. 6, is showing 12 award-winning, narrative features and documentaries from France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Spain and the United States. In addition, the festival, which runs through April 25, includes films directed by Smith alumna, Mariette Monpierre ’85; Hampshire College alumnus Artemis Joukowsky ’85; and UMass alumna, Pamela Yates ’76.

Next up on the program, on Wednesday, will be “The Wild Ones” by Spanish director Patricia Ferreira.

Portuges said she started the festival 20 years ago because there is an abundance of interesting work going on around the globe in filmmaking that, she felt, needed to be showcased locally.

“It’s very gratifying to connect with an audience, to take the risk to find something new and edgy and possibly make people see things in new ways,” Portuges said during a phone interview last week. She says the festival is a model for other universities in that it gets bigger every year. This year she’s expecting over 200 people per screening.

“It brings the community together because it’s not just for film studies majors. It’s for the public, faculty, students and staff,” Portuges said.

Each year, she says, a different festival theme is chosen by the UMass Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, with the aim of giving focus to the films that are selected and stimulating dialogue surrounding comparisons of cinematic traditions and cultures. Every year Portuges selects films for the festival that coincide with the annual theme.

The theme this year is “continuities.” That speaks not only to how many years the UMass Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies has sponsored the festival, but also to the subject matter in the films — in this case, she says, ones that “revisit the past and interrogate the present.”

Reviewing hundreds of films from submissions, suggestions, press screenings, the Toronto Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival, Portuges says, she fights for the films she likes. That means negotiating screening fees with filmmakers who often don’t provide international distribution, finding out the latest information about distribution rates and reading lots of press releases. Portuges said that because some of the films she wants become so popular in their countries and are desired by other film festivals, they become too expensive to screen at UMass.

Most of the films this year are from, or about, Europe and corresponding with this examination of multicultural Europe, 2013 happens to be the European Year of Citizens. Sponsored by the European Union and its institutions, the European Parliament, and member states of the European Union, the European Year of Citizens is dedicated to discussing the rights that come with E.U. citizenship.

“I think a lot of people see Europe as being not so multicultural,” Portuges said. “It is important that some of these films are focused on minorities, like the Gypsy Roma kids in the film, ‘Our School,’ and on Eastern Europe and other culturally diverse countries besides the regions that Europe so often gets reduced to France, Germany and Italy.”

Women filmmakers

Catalonia, Spain, is the setting of the next film, “The Wild Ones” (“Els nens salvatges”), which is in Catalan and Spanish, with English subtitles.

The story follows the lives and families of a trio of troubled Catalan teens, including Gabi, a wanna-be kick boxer; Alex, a rebellious graffiti artist; and bored, wealthy teen, Oky. The story illustrates how the education system and poor choices of parents and teachers affect teens’ lives.

The picture alternates between school-panel interviews and the trio following a major tragedy that’s revealed only in the final minutes of the film.

Jordi Dosaiguas Falcó, a lecturer of Catalan in the UMass Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, who has taught high school in Barcelona, Spain, says the film is an excellent example of the lack of communication between adults and teenagers.

“The director created a very real atmosphere, especially with the scenes in the school,” he said. “It shows how we forget about the simple things, to ask how our son or daughter’s day was, to find out what is going on at school. Then time passes by and soon they become a wild one.”

The movie’s director, Ferreira, will hold a Q & A session after the screening.

Ferreira studied photography and journalism at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She began her career as a film critic for national Spanish public television (TVE) and the cinema magazine Fotogramas, and later worked in TV as a producer, director and writer of series, cultural programs, news and documentaries. In 1999, she made her film debut as the writer and director of the film “Sé quién eres,” which earned her a Goya nomination for Best New Director.

Falcó said Ferreira’s latest film, “The Wild Ones” has received several awards, including four from the Malaga Film Festival (April 2012) for Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting actor (Àlex Monner) and Best Supporting Actress (Aina Clotet). More recently, Monner won a Best Actor award at the 2013 Gaudi Awards of the Catalan Cinema Academy.

However, Falcó says, “The Wild Ones” was not chosen for the UMass festival only because of it’s numerous awards. The film falls under the category of “Spanish cinema made by women,” one of the special research interests at the Spanish and Portuguese unit of the Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department at UMass. Not only do films by women, in general, add another multicultural element to the festival, Falcó says, it’s also important to showcase work by Spanish women filmmakers, in particular, because there aren’t many of them.

Falcó said that because the festival is held at a university, film selections are based on a wide variety of academic interests. From women’s studies in feminism and human rights in Latin America, troubled youth in Spain, Nazi occupation in Budapest, to the disciplines of art in a South Bronx project, the UMass Multicultural Film Festival 2013 spans many multicultural subjects, prompting discussion and reflection.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.