University Offers View of the World

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Understanding your neighbors is a good way to prevent misunderstandings that damage friendships. In that spirit, The University of Scranton offers a myriad of ways for the community to interact on an international scale. From Spanish language films that illuminate contemporary political and cultural realities in Latin America to a festival offering the foods, songs and dress of Saudi Arabia, the Scranton campus boasts a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor.

Linda Ledford-Miller, Ph.D., professor and chair of World Languages and Cultures at the University, recently won a grant that is bringing five Spanish-language films to campus. She said hosting the film series and maintaining a continuous offering of international experiences on campus provide two immediate benefits to the community. One is that cinematic opportunities like the Spanish-language series add to a rapidly growing list of foreign films once scarce in the Scranton area; the other is the potential to promote greater cultural understanding.

 Dr. Ledford-Miller notes there is a growing appetite for foreign-language films, pointing to the Oscar nod for the French film, “The Artist,” to emphasize her point.  “You could go to New York to see a foreign-language film . . . or the Dietrich Theater (in Tunkhannock) shows foreign films, but I think it’s hard for people who live in Scranton to get there. Also, we show the films for free, so that saves on the ticket price,” she said.

In addition to artistic enrichment, the other benefit of a cosmopolitan campus in the center of the city is an enhanced understanding and appreciation of other cultures.

Dr. Ledford-Miller said that, for example, the Spanish-language film series is made possible by a grant from the Spanish government as a way to foster and promote Spanish culture. All of the films in the series address societal and political issues in Latin America. The first in the series, a Mexican film, was screened in September. Dr. Ledford-Miller said that film explored the problems of Mexican youth with a comedic touch. “The film was about a group of unemployed young men who decide to rob a theater. They can’t find jobs and one who applied to college didn’t get in, so robbery seems like a good idea.” Through a series of misadventures, many comedic, the film explores everything from a poor economy to police corruption. It ends with the youths back on the same park bench they occupied at the beginning, which underscores the hopelessness of their situation.

In addition to the Spanish-language films, The University showed two award-winning Taiwanese films and hosted talks by the author of one and the director of the other at a Taiwanese Film and Cultural Festival in early October. In November, films dating from the Soviet era in East Germany will be shown at the sixth annual sixth annual East German Film Festival: “Filming Women: Iris Gusner’s Portrayal of Work and Love.”  A more detailed list of upcoming international film showings follows.

In addition, the University also hosts a variety of international festivals and educational programs for the general public and area school children during the academic year.

International Film Showings Planned at The University of Scranton

Nov. 6, 7 p.m.  “Alle meine Mädchen” (“All My Girls,” 1979). Part of the sixth annual East German Film Festival: “Filming Women: Iris Gusner’s Portrayal of Work and Love.” Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-4014

Nov. 7, 7 p.m. “Die Taube auf dem Dach” (“The Dove on the Roof,” 1973/2010). Part of the sixth annual East German Film Festival: “Filming Women: Iris Gusner’s Portrayal of Work and Love.” Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-4014.

Nov. 8, 7 p.m. “Wäre die Erde nicht rund” (“Were the Earth Not Round,” 1981). Part of the sixth annual East German Film Festival: “Filming Women: Iris Gusner’s Portrayal of Work and Love.” Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-4014.

Nov. 15, 7 p.m.  Spanish Film Club Series. “Post Mortem” Chilean film directed by Pablo Larrain. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda, the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain, and its Program for Cultural Cooperation with United States’ Universities. Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-7448.

Feb. 21, 2013, 7 p.m.  Spanish Film Club Series. “From the Land to Your Table” (2009) is a documentary about the conditions and cultural diversity of produce markets throughout Iberoamérica. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda, the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain, and its Program for Cultural Cooperation with United States’ Universities. Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-7448.

Mar.19, 2013, 7 p.m.  Spanish Film Club Series. “Even the Rain” (2010), was nominated as Spain’s entry for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda, the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain, and its Program for Cultural Cooperation with United States’ Universities. Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-7448.

April 25, 2013, 7 p.m.  Spanish Film Club Series. “I Travel Because I Have To” (2009) is a first-person travelogue of José Renato, a 35-year-old geologist, who is on a field trip to an isolated region of Brazil to assess possible routes for a water canal from the region’s only voluminous river. The Spanish Film Club series was made possible with the support of Pragda, the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain, and its Program for Cultural Cooperation with United States’ Universities. Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall. Free. Call 941-7448.