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New film series explores mental health

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – A new Monmouth College film series will explore mental health issues through the lens of Spanish-speaking movies.

“Latin American and Spanish Films at Monmouth” will feature five films, which will be shown on select Wednesdays during the fall semester at 7 p.m. in the Barnes Electronic Classroom on the lower level of Hewes Library. They are free and open to the public.

“We decided to do a festival at Monmouth because we wanted to bring to campus more diversity and have movies at night where students can come and learn and have fun – and have free popcorn,” said Jennifer Thorndike, a professor in the College’s Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Culture.

Although the movies, which are subtitled, are from five different Spanish-speaking countries, they are connected by the common theme of mental health.

“We wanted to bring a topic to the film festival – something really relevant and really important – and the topic that we chose was mental health,” said Thorndike. “These are topics that are discussed today and everyone can relate in some sense. We have topics going on at the same time, things like mental health and body image or mental health and isolation.”

That first combination is presented in the opening film of the series – the Venezuelan film 3 Beauties – which Thorndike will introduce at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4. A discussion session for those interested will follow each screening.

Other films explore mental health and disease, mental health and bullying, and mental health and political violence. In addition to Thorndike, two of her department colleagues – Francisco Ángeles and Keith Schaefer – will introduce films and lead discussions.

“Students and the community can learn about different cultures and different cultural approaches,” said Thorndike, whose scholarly work involves the topic of the cultural representation of illness. “You can see not only the differences, but also that you can relate.”

The film series was made possible with the support of the film distribution company Pragda, as well as SPAIN arts & culture and the Secretary of State for Culture of Spain.

The five-film series:

Sept. 4: 3 Beauties (Venezuela) – mental health and body image

Sept. 25: Cows Wearing Glasses (Puerto Rico) – mental health and disease

Oct. 16: The Companion (Cuba) – mental health and isolation

Nov. 6: Country of Fear (Spain) – mental health and bullying

Nov. 20: Clandestine Childhood (Argentina) – mental health and political violence