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Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 1:15pm
Dobbs Ferry Campus

In April, Mercy College’s 20th Annual International Film Festival, hosted by the School of Liberal Arts and spearheaded by the Modern Foreign Languages Program, presented a week-long series of thought-provoking foreign language films by a diverse range of filmmakers. The festival celebrates international cinema as a way to stimulate interest in foreign languages and a greater awareness of the wide range of cultural experiences.

After a brief welcome by Dr. Elise Arnold-Levene, Assistant Professor of Spanish, a guest speaker introduced each film and served as a commentator during the half-hour discussion that followed each feature.

“This year we invited some exciting speakers who could offer an insider’s view of the film industry or the subject matter,” Arnold-Levene said. The lineup included a Fulbright scholar; a film critic, author and Professor of Film Studies from Columbia University; a director, a screenwriter and an Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies from Pratt Institute; and an esteemed subject matter expert from Mercy College.

Each of the selected films explored different aspects of the theme of transformation, telling stories of family struggles, challenges to social structures and a coming-of-age journey. “On the Road, Somewhere” follows the adventures of a group of teenagers on a self-discovery road trip through the Dominican Republic. Guillermo Zouain, the film’s director, and Dr. Wendy Muñiz, the screenwriter and an expert on the Dominican Republic, led the discussion. In “Outside the Law,” three brothers join the struggle for Algerian liberation from France. Leading the discussion was Fulbright Fellow and Mercy teaching assistant Hichem Derardja.

The film “Foxtrot” chronicles a family’s deeply affecting response to their son’s death at a remote military outpost. Author and film historian Dr. Annette Insdorf led the discussion. In “The Second Mother,” the estranged daughter of a live-in housekeeper upends a family’s life. Discussion of the film was led by Mercy professor Dr. Evan Imber-Black.

The audience turnout on opening night reached 130, and attendance was equally impressive for each subsequent film. The audiences included Mercy students, alumni and faculty, as well as people from the community, and Mercy student volunteers helped behind the scenes.

“Our goal in hosting the film festival has always been to foster a greater sense of the cultural richness of the world and its languages, and we absolutely accomplished our objective,” Arnold-Levene mentioned. “It’s a unique event, one that brings together people of many different backgrounds, ages and perspectives who share a common interest. The post-film discussions allow anyone to voice their thoughts and ideas in an open, collegial atmosphere. Our community audience was very appreciative toward Mercy for hosting the festival and welcoming them to the College.”