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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

“Espiral” shows different side of immigration

As people waited for the movie to start, the buzz of conversation quickly died down as three people stepped into the center of a crowded Bryan Jr. Auditorium. Each held an instrument: a guitar, a trumpet, and a güiro, a Latin-American percussion instrument made out of a gourd.

Because attendees expected to only be shown a movie, the live mariachi music was a surprising treat.

“I think the music kind of sets the mood as Mexican,” said Alfonso Abad Mancheño, assistant professor of Spanish. “I think it flowed right into the movie.”

The movie, shown on Nov. 17, was “Espiral,” a Mexican film set in a small, southern Mexican village. The film focuses on the lives of the women whose husbands and fathers leave them behind to go to the U.S. to earn enough money to better their lives.

“Most films about emigration deal with the idea of crossing the border, the journey to get to the United States and the lives of the immigrants once they are established in the US,” said Olivia Elias, assistant professor of Spanish, in an email interview. “We rarely stop and think what happens to those people that remain in Mexico.”

“Espiral” was one of 23 movies shown as part of the North Carolina Latin-American Film Festival. The films were shown at colleges and universities in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Greensboro.

According to the film festival’s website, “Its mission is to provide a space in North Carolina for Latin American images, sounds, and stories to reach a wider audience.” Many agree this is an important goal.

“I think it’s important for students to come see movies like this because it allows them to see the world from a different point of view,” said sophomore Chloe Weiner. “Because we’re living here at college, going to the cafeteria, going to our classes, doing the same things every day, … sometimes it’s hard to realize other people’s realities of … having to go maybe to an entirely different country and how that can change your life, and maybe ruin your life forever because of economic pressures.”

“One thing that I found very interesting was the U.S. was always present in the movie even though we never see the U.S.,” said Mancheño. “It was like (the people in the film) are brought up to go to the U.S. That’s what’s in their minds since they are kids.”

As more and more of the men leave the village in search of a better life in the U.S., the women who remain begin taking over all the responsibilities of keeping their town afloat. Out of necessity, they realize that they have more to offer their community than just being wives and having children.

“You can look at the point of view of women in more traditional societies and how that’s changing everywhere,” said Mancheño.

Initially, the women left behind are portrayed as sad, abandoned characters. As they begin to take over the town, however, they find clarity and fulfillment in their new powerful roles in the village.

“I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to portray the lives of the people who left to be the unsuccessful ones, but they were obviously the most unhappy characters in the whole movie,” said Weiner.

The title of the film translates to “Spiral” in English, an image that plays an important symbolic role in the film.

“I believe the concept of ‘Espiral’ is making reference to those events, patterns, situations, that are naturally repetitive,” said Elias. “Nothing changes. I am talking about the economic situation of the people that migrate. Even though they work so hard they still remain in the same place.”

The film ends with the men of the village sitting drunk and alone while the women laugh and share a meal together.

In the end, “Espiral” maintained the mission of the film festival and let the audience glimpse a different world from a unique perspective.

“It’s extremely important that Guilford students remain active in learning about problems that exist not only in our communities but in the world,” said Early College student Haejin Song. “These movies are voices that want to tell the world their stories, and we need to be the ears and listen.”

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