The Wits Centre for Mexican Studies hopes Wits students may find interest in the Spanish language and culture through film

The Wits Centre for Mexican Studies (CMS) hosted a Hispanic Film Festival on Monday, August 26 in the Graduate Seminar room on East Campus to showcase Chilean culture and cinematography.

The festival was centred on screening Calzones Rotos, a 2018 dark comedy spun out of an Argentine and Chilean collaboration.

Teyza Ponce, CMS communications intern, told Wits Vuvuzela that the centre planned to screen “something funny, fresh and something people would want to see”.

“We also wanted something easy to follow for everyone to understand,” Ponce said.

Calzones Rotos is set in rural Chile in the 1950s where a matriarch, Matilde, calls the local village priest to confess that she killed her husband, Antonio, 40 years before and hid his corpse in a chest lying in her garage.

More secrets are uncovered in the tale twisted with murder, sex and dark humour.

In English, the film’s title Calzones Rotos has a double entendre which may reference a type of folded pizza or its literal meaning of ‘torn underwear’.

Chilean Ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Franscisco Javier Berguño, said when people often think about Latin America cinema, they “often think about Argentinian and Mexican films”.

He highlighted that Chilean cinematography goes back to the 19th century. The South American country’s first feature film was Adolfo Urzúa Rosas’ Manuel Rodríguez released in 1910 which tells the story of Chilean lawyer and guerrilla leader Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza.

Berguño explained that 19th century cinema largely had social connotations and comments on Chile, a country under dictatorship between the Seventies and Nineties. “Afterwards, from the 1990s going forward, we see a renaissance in film of various social connotations. In the 2000s, we see other areas including comedies,” he said.

Ponce added that since Latin America and South Africa are so far apart with different cultures, the centre hopes to bridge the gap with events on Wits campus.

“We hope our events open people up to the other side of the world and that the movie may have helped break any stereotypes,” she said.

Second year Spanish and Latin American studies student, Thato Senabe, said it was interesting to see the cultural differences between South Africa and Chile, but also how they are similar.

“The closeness of family took me by surprise, given that Chile and Argentina are the more ‘European’ South American countries,” said Senabe.

FEATURED IMAGE: Chilean Ambassador to South Africa Franscisco Javier Berguño speaks about the history of Chilean cinema. Photo: Ntombi Mkandhla