Departmental Speaker Series

Entre Nos is our departmental speaker series. Run by Clara Sotelo, the goal of “Entre Nos” is to offer our faculty, graduate students, and the university at large the opportunity to learn about and discuss the intellectual endeavors of SPS. Students and faculty from our department meet to share our current projects, and occasionally we are fortunate to be able to welcome speakers from elsewhere. In Fall 2015, we hosted two such visitors.

On Sept. 11, 2015, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, via Entre Nos, held a special presentation by Tania Hermida. She is an Ecuatorian filmmaker who graduated at the International Film and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños (Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de Los Baños, EICTV), Cuba. She has been a screenwriter and director of short films such as “Ajubel” (Cuba, 1989); “El puente roto” (Cuenca, 1991); and “Alo” (Quito, 1999). She has worked as assistant director of the feature films “Prueba de vida” 2000; “María llena de gracia” 2004 and “Crónicas” 2004. In addition to studying in Cuba, she took literature courses and a postgraduate qualification in cultural studies in Spain. She also has a Master’s degree in cultural studies and works as senior professor at the San Francisco University of Quito, since 1996. She lives in Quito and has expressed her wishes to establish herself in Guayaquil and do social denunciation films. “Qué tan lejos” 2006 marked her debut as filmmaker and got her the Second Coral Prize in the Havana Film Festival, and the Silver Zenith Award dedicated to First Works at the Festival des Films du Monde of Montreal. Her film, “En el nombre de la hija” was featured at the Harn Museum for the Opening of the Latino Film Festival, on Thursday, September 10. (SPS’s Víctor Jordán conducted an interview with Tania Hermida, which you can read below.

Tania Hermida speaking with attendees.
Tania Hermida speaking with attendees.

The goal of Entre Nos is to offer the opportunity to learn about and discuss the intellectual endeavors of SPS.

On Sept. 18, 2015, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, via “Entre nos,” held a special presentation by Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez. He describes himself an unrepentant border crosser, ex-DJ, writer, painter, and academic. An Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Hispanic Southwest Literatures and Cultures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico, he has also taught and lectured at the University of Iowa, Penn State, the Universidad de Salamanca, the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, and at Texas A&M University. Author of three collections of short stories,
Algún día te cuento las cosas que he visto 2012, Luego el silencio 2014, One Day I’ll Tell You the Things I’ve Seen 2015. His literary work has been published in anthologies in Spain, Italy, Latin America and the United States. His academic work focuses on US Latino cultural expression, and US/Mexico border cultures.

Interview with Tania Hermida

Tania Hermida entrevistada por Victor Jordan

Una niña de nueve años siente tambalear su mundo interior cuando al llegar a Londres, a su nuevaescuela, enfrenta una sencilla pregunta de parte de su profesora: “¿De dónde eres?”. Al responder queviene del Ecuador la maestra le explica a la niña que debe haber alguna equivocación porque el Ecuadores una línea imaginaria que divide el mundo en dos hemisferios. La niña sólo logra hacerse entendercuando le es posible señalar en un mapa del mundo su lugar de procedencia, un pequeño país que paranada se asemeja a la gran nación que su padre le ha descrito decenas de veces. Muchos años más tardeesa niña aprende que el tamaño de su país es igual al de la Gran Bretaña.

Con esta vivencia personal Tania Hermida, durante su visita a U.F., un día después de que su películainaugure el décimo primer festival de cine latino en Gainesville, explica lo vital que es nombrar. Elnombre, me ha explicado ella mientras conversamos informalmente, antes de su charla organizada porel Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, define y también construye: crea un imaginario enquien lo posee y en quien lo da.

Son dos caras de un mismo interrogante, me explica Tania, las que plantea en su segundo largometraje:¿Cómo es que el lenguaje nos define? y ¿Cómo el lenguaje hace que nos definamos? Y enseguidaagrega, “te define no solo la palabra… también el lugar.” Y en su caso el papel del lugar es claro. En unacorta entrevista publicada en Youtube por Javier Hernández Toledo ARTS al preguntársele si dirigirá enotros países Hermida se define como una “cineasta muy ecuatoriana” y considera sus personajes y suspelículas igualmente muy ecuatorianas. No sorprende entonces que la trama se desarrolle en eseEcuador que Hermida debió explicar (nombrar) en el Londres de su niñez.

Tampoco asombra que En el nombre de la hija, el nombre de la protagonista, Manuela (en honor a supadre Manuel – un ateo socialista) sea motivo de discordia con la abuela Dolores (una católicaconservadora) y otros miembros de su familia. Es a través de ese nombrar que la directora consideravital, que se genera la identidad de la protagonista y las identidades de los personajes. Surge entonces lapregunta obvia ¿Qué tanto de Tania habrá en Manuela?

Hermida sostiene que sus dos largometrajes no son autobiográficos, aunque reconoce que sí hay muchode ella y de su experiencia en ellos. La directora ecuatoriana destaca el escenario andino y algunas de lasproblemáticas sociales de su país. Al preguntarle acerca de uno de los libros que la protagonista del filmlee, Corazón: el diario de un niño, de Edmundo de Amicis (1886), Hermida revela que “fue uno de losprimeros libros que leí” y de inmediato hace referencias concretas a uno de los cuentos incluidos en lanovela: “De los Apeninos a los Andes”. Evidentemente hay más de ella en Manuela que lo que nos hadejado saber en primera instancia.

Durante su charla Hermida habla de la industria fílmica de Hollywood con evidente ambivalencia. Por unlado, reconoce las ventajas que traería el poder contar con el andamiaje de las grandes productoras delcine estadounidense, pero por otro cuestiona la jerarquización de esa industria, gobernada en su granmayoría por hombres e impulsada por el ánimo de lucro: “el que no haya una industria establecida [enEl Ecuador] es positivo y negativo” me ha dicho con anterioridad. Hermida reconoce las dificultades porlas que pasa el cine independiente pero al mismo tiempo valora la libertad de acción que ella tienecomo parte de una inmensa minoría: la que constituyen las mujeres directoras de cine. El cineindependiente no le debe nada a nadie así que puede manifestarse sin ataduras, “el directorindependiente tiene más libertad” me ha comentado antes. Pero lo difícil es llegarle plenamente al granpúblico debido a la escasez de recursos y porque ese público no está educado para apreciar este cine.

Para nombrar los males que aquejan a la sociedad ecuatoriana, y por extensión al mundo, Hermida usael término “taras”. Al responder una pregunta del público después de la inauguración del festival, ella haenumerado estas taras: el machismo, el racismo y el clasismo. En la película En el nombre de la hija estos defectos heredados son más que palpables, están no solamente personificados por la generaciónde los abuelos sino que están actuados por la generación de los nietos, concretamente por los primos deManuela. La generación del medio, la de los padres, ha fracasado en su intento por lograr algún tipo detransformación. Los tíos de Manuela son unos representantes sosos del capitalismo, y la idea que ellatiene acerca de una revolución que sus padres están liderando se viene abajo con la lectura de unrecorte de prensa.

La transformación se posibilita cuando Manuela (ahora Alicia), su hermano, sus primos y el hijo de lacriada, se escabullen en secreto por una ventana, en evidente guiño al libro de Lewis Caroll, Alice’sAdventures in Wonderland (1866). Es en este mundo de maravilla dónde las taras desaparecen. Ycuando le pregunto a Tania acerca de este diálogo que establece con el libro de Caroll ella sonríe,asiente y se limita a comentarme que son los jóvenes los que con más frecuencia ven esa relación.Quizás ese sea uno de los mensajes que Tania Hermida ha plasmado es su segundo largometraje, que esnecesario encontrar una ventana que nos posibilite el paso a un mundo que se ha mantenido oculto,pero que está en nosotros, donde las taras sencillamente desaparecen.

English translation:
Tania Hermida interviewed by Victor Jordan
A nine-year-old girl is shaken by her inner world when she arrives in London at her new school and faces a simple question from her teacher: “Where are you from?” When answering from Ecuador, the teacher explains to the girl that there must be some mistake because the Equator is an imaginary line that divides the world into two hemispheres. The girl can only understand herself by making it possible to point out her place of origin on a world map, a small country that looks like the great nation her father has described to her dozens of times. Many years later the girl learns that the size of her country is the same as that of Great Britain.

With this personal experience Tania Hermida, during his visit to U.F., a day after his filminaugure the eleventh Latino film festival in Gainesville, explains how vital it is to name. The name, she explained to me as we talked informally, before her talk organized by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, defines and also constructs: creates an imaginary in who owns it and in who gives it.

They are two faces of the same question, Tania explains to me, the ones that it raises in its second largometraje: How is the language defines to us? And How does language make us define ourselves? And then it adds, “it defines you not only the word … also the place.” And in its case the role of the place is clear. In an unacorta interview published on Youtube by Javier Hernández Toledo ARTS when asked if he will be directing in other countries Hermida defines himself as a “very Ecuadorian filmmaker” and considers his characters and his films equally Ecuadorian. It is not surprising, therefore, that the plot develops in thatEcuador that Hermida had to explain (name) in the London of her childhood.

Nor is it astonishing that In the name of the daughter, the name of the protagonist, Manuela (in honor of supadre Manuel – a socialist atheist) is cause for discord with grandmother Dolores (a conservative Catholic) and other members of her family. It is through this to name that the director consideravital, that generates the identity of the protagonist and the identities of the characters. Then the obvious question arises How much of Tania will be in Manuela?

Hermida contends that her two feature films are not autobiographical, although she acknowledges that there is a lot of her and her experience in them. The Ecuadorian director highlights the Andean scenario and some of the social problems of her country. When asked about one of the books that the protagonist of the filmlee, Heart: A Child’s Diary, by Edmundo de Amicis (1886), Hermida reveals that “it was one of the first books I read” and immediately makes specific references to one Of the stories included in lanovela: “From the Apennines to the Andes.” Evidently there is more of her in Manuela than we hated to know in the first instance.

During her talk, Hermida talks about the Hollywood film industry with obvious ambivalence. On the other hand, he recognizes the advantages of having the scaffolding of the big American producers, but on the other, he questions the hierarchy of that industry, governed in its greatness by men and driven by the profit motive: An established industry [in Ecuador] is positive and negative, “he told me before. Hermida recognizes the difficulties of independent cinema, but at the same time values ​​the freedom of action that she has as part of an immense minority: the women directors of film. The independent cinema owes nothing to anyone so it can manifest without ties, “the independent director has more freedom” has told me before. But the difficult thing is to reach fully the public because of the scarcity of resources and because the public is not educated to appreciate this cinema.

To name the evils that afflict Ecuadorian society, and by extension to the world, Hermida uses the term “taras”. In answering a question from the public after the opening of the festival, she has enumerated these taras: machismo, racism and classism. In the film In the name of the daughter these inherited defects are more than palpable, they are not only personified by the generation of the grandparents but they are acted by the generation of the grandchildren, concretely by the cousins ​​of Manuela. The generation of the medium, that of the parents, has failed in its attempt to achieve some kind of transformation. Manuela’s uncles are dull representatives of capitalism, and the idea that she has about a revolution her parents are leading comes down with the reading of a press conference.

The transformation is made possible when Manuela (now Alice), her brother, her cousins and the tearful son, secretly sneak through a window, in obvious wink to Lewis Caroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1866). It is in this world of wonder where taras disappears. And when I ask Tania about this dialogue that she establishes with Caroll’s book, she smiles, nods and merely comments to me that it is the young people who most often see that relationship. Perhaps that is one of the messages that Tania Hermida has expressed Is his second feature, that it is necessary to find a window that allows us to pass to a world that has remained hidden, but that is in us, where the taras simply disappear.