“Wakolda” enthralls viewers at film festival

The 3rd annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival was held this past week, from April 9 through April 12. The eight films in the festival were from seven different Spanish-speaking countries and were all released within the past two years. The festival was free and open to the public.

The cinema was near full for each of the screenings, demonstrating the popularity of the festival. Students, faculty, and the public alike attended each of the films. Directors Juan Andres Arango and Adrián Saba also attended the festival and provided attendees with the opportunity to talk with them following the screenings of their films.

The Latin American and Spanish films shown not only represent a variety of different cultures, but also cover a variety of genres and topics. Some of the films brought tears to the audience’s eyes, and other films filled the cinema with laughter.

Specifically, Wakolda (The German Doctor), shown at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, tells the true story of a Chilean family who unknowingly lived with the criminal, Josef Mengele after World War II. The audience watches as the parents of this family come to the realization of this man’s identity and of what he has been doing to their children.

As the audience attempts to unravel the mystery along with the family, they become attached to what is unfolding on the screen. Each member of the family has a different relationship with the German doctor, yet the audience understands each individual’s experience with him.

As the young daughter, Lilith, falls in love with the German criminal, the audience cannot help but anticipate her pain to come. As the father is slowly wooed by the man’s investment in his business, the audience experiences the same mental battle between accepting the man’s assistance and fighting to protect his family.

When the mother gives birth to two twin babies, the audience feels torn alongside the parents about whether to trust the man with their medical care. When the man’s true identity is finally exposed, the audience feels the family’s pain.

Although there are English subtitles throughout the entire film, the audience is experiencing the Spanish and German languages in a natural context. The film provides exposure to the German culture existing within Chile during this emotional time period in the world’s history.

All of the seven other films within the festival provide the same positive and intense experience as Wakolda (The German Doctor). Students without any previous experience in Spanish are just as likely to walk away with a positive experience as someone who has been speaking the language their entire lives.

Most importantly, the festival offers Lawrence students with the opportunity to experience another culture without leaving campus. It reflects the diversity in existence across campus in its highlight of the many different cultures within Latin America and Spain.

Congratulations to the Spanish Department as a whole, and specifically to Associate Professor Rosa Tapia for the great success of yet another Latin American and Spanish Film Festival.