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That is why, in November 2008, the Real Colegio Complutense of Harvard University, together with the Universidad Complutense and the Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, sponsored a three-day international symposium in Cuenca and Madrid, Spain.
The fruit of friendly collaboration with colleagues in Spain, most notably Ignacio Oliva, Fran Zurián, Josetxo Cerdán and Pilar Rodríguez, as well as with colleagues from Cuba (Luciano Castillo), Mexico (Juan Mora Catlett, Elisa Miller), Brazil (Denilson Lopes), Argentina (Gonzalo Aguilar, Ana Amado), Chile (Cecilia Barriga), Venezuela (Andrés Duque) and Costa Rica (María Lourdes Cortés), the symposium was the first installment in a still unfolding series of similar ventures on other topics.
Interest in Latin American cinema has been building for quite some time at Harvard University, as I discovered when I arrived here as Director of the Harvard Film Archive just about three years ago.
It is particularly rewarding to include several pieces by up and coming scholars and historians of Latin American cinema from Harvard such as Humberto Delgado alongside the work of long-established and influential observers of Latin American film from the Harvard community such as Nicolau Sevcenko and visiting professor in Romance Languages and Literatures Gonzalo Aguilar.
And movie going is an emotional experience or maybe I should say, two types of emotional experience.
I love to go to a film by myself, curl up in the seat and lose myself in the darkness to the big screen.
Of course, people are busy, but the reaction seemed to extend beyond the fact of hectic lives. In the process of developing this issue on film, we—myself and my guiding lights Harvard Film Archive Director Haden Guest and Harvard Romance Languages and Literatures Professor Brad Epps—had decided to limit the issue to film in Latin America, rather than including film from Spain and Latino films (a good excuse for another film issue! And I realized that the two most important films for me in that sense fell into that category.
We’ve chosen here to focus on five countries: Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba. This issue has blended perspectives from filmmakers and film-goers, Latin Americans and Latin Americanists, providing glimpses of film trends past and present.
But as I write this letter, I’m reminded of the moment when one leaves the theatre and the reality of harsh daylight or blaring car horns shatters the mood.
These visits have taken place within the context of a larger project here at the university; we have channeled an energetic focus on building resources and interest in Ibero-American cinema at Harvard into an Ibero-American film committee which I lead together with Brad Epps, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Chair of the Committee on Degrees for Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality here at Harvard.
Many of the authors here in this issue—among them, Humberto Delgado, Daniel Aguirre, Clemence Joüet-Pastre, and Bruno Carvalho—are members of the committee and tireless promoters of film at Harvard.