Ibero-American Film Festival 2022: A glimpse into the Latin American history little known to us

Nine days, 16 countries, and 16 films that showed us a glimpse of the rich, tragic, violent history and politics of these countries curated specially for audience that remains largely unaware of it

Ibero-American Film Festival 2022: A glimpse into the Latin American history little known to us

Garima Sadhwani

The Embassy of Spain in India recently organised the first Ibero-American Film Festival in New Delhi, in collaboration with Ibero-American embassies. Nine days, 16 countries, and 16 films that showed us the rich, tragic, political, violent history of these countries, curated specially for an audience that still remains largely unaware of it.

The Cuban film Inocencia (2018) was one that though set in an entirely different world, separated from ours by cultures, languages, and vast oceans, still felt very close to home. Based on a true event that happened in 1871, November 27, the film depicts just how damaging colonialism was to everyone who were victim of it.

The story revolved around a medical college, where the students were imprisoned on fabricated charges. The Commissioner wanted money in exchange for their freedom, but the Spanish Voluntary Army wanted their lives, to set an example so that no one ever dared to rebel against the Spanish rule on the island. Ultimately, eight of those students were gunned down by the firing squad to satisfy the blood-thirsty army. The movie traced the journey of another medical student, a friend of those executed, who spent 16 years finding the bodies of his friends, trying to give them the martyr status that the colonial rulers had denied him.

Rushali Lekhi, who hails from New Delhi, was too taken by this film for quite a while after she watched it. It was more intense than she had expected, and it almost rubbed salt on wounds that are only as recent as our independence. After reflecting on it for some time, Lekhi wondered if it’s just us, Indians, who have never really noticed how painful the histories of a few other countries are because ours is just too painful. Or is it the case with the whole world- trying to undermine, and ignore the Hispanic history and culture, clubbing it under one umbrella, and denying them their identity just like the colonisers did?

Another member of the audience, Sonu Singh, too wondered the same thing. Though he had difficulties following the film because of the language and the subtitles, he understood that Cuban history wasn’t too different from ours. In many ways, they underwent the same experiences, the same lives that so many of our ancestors did, he observed.

Another film Arana (literally meaning spider) from Chile depicted a cobweb of mishappenings that take place when politics, love, and revenge intertwine. The politics of this film becomes important because though it dangles between the 1970s and the present day, it fits too well into the extreme-right narratives being set globally.

The way the “nationalist” movement works in the film’s 1970’s Chile could well have been a modern-day documentary- of dissent silenced, art and artists curbed, and a place and country for no one but the “natives”. An emphasis on language and the othering of outsiders, those who do not belong to the land, is prominent throughout the film.

The films that were screened at the festival actually gave the audience a glimpse into the history of Latin America, ultimately bringing them to date with why the politics of these countries is what it is now.

The film festival, that was held in New Delhi from the 24th of June to the 2nd of July, held screenings of El Buen Patron (Spain), A Metamorfose Dos Passaros (Portugal), Una Pelicula Sobre Parejas (Dominican Republic), Encanto (Colombia), Gueros (Mexico), Un Destello Interior (Venezuela), Humanpersons (Panama), Porque Todas Las Quiero Cantar (Uruguay), Pensando En El (Argentine Republic), Ana, Sem Titulo (Brazil), Chicama (Peru), Violeta Al Fin (Costa Rica), Innocencia (Cuba), Arana (Chile), Mejor No Hablar (Ecuador), and Septiembre- Un Llanto En Silencio (Guatemala).

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