Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Focusing on Latin America in Jackson, Mississippi

July 12th, 2011

This summer, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies collaborated with Vanderbilt University and Millsaps College to welcome educators from across the United States to an intensive film institute exploring the diversity of Latin America through film. Hosted by Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, the institute, “Through the Lens: Teaching Latin America through Film” brought in faculty and film scholars to present on five films specially selected for use at the high school level. Participants in the institute explored vital issues in Latin America and learned how to properly incorporate film into their curriculum and within the school. The goal of this institute was to engage educators with the power of using film in their teaching of Latin America. Through this program, key contemporary films that address current issues within Latin America were highlighted

Films were screened as a public film series for the participants as well as the Jackson community in the evenings. Morning presentations engaged all participants with the issues of each film. Afternoon curriculum writing sessions enabled participants to work together on developing lessons for the individual classrooms. The five films selected covered both regional and subject diversity.
Director of the Latin American Studies department at Millsaps College, Eric Griffin engaged educators in the classic, “Cabeza de Vaca.” His presentation explored the geography of conquest and enabled educators to incorporate new geographic technologies to follow the explorer’s travels. Las Américas Film Network Director, Brian Knighten presented on the legal issues in the film “Bananas*! At Any Cost?” and the case against Dole fruit company. He spoke about his experience in film and the most effective methods of properly screening film. Vanderbilt scholars, John Maddox and Courtney Campbell presented the social issues of “Favela Rising.” The landscape and social issues of Cuba were presented in the film, “Viva Cuba.” Educators were fully engaged in the discussion on the film and the history of the film industry within Cuba by Director of the Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute and Associate Provost of Tulane University, Ana López.

Educators worked together in groups developing lesson plans on a film and a final oral presentation on their ideas. All participants received a copy of each film and now have access to their peers’ curriculum development on a wiki. Facilitators of this institute will follow up next summer to learn the outcome and potential success of the effectiveness of the lessons developed. The films screened in this summer’s institute are available through the Stone Center’s Latin American Resource Center’s lending library with screening guides and online curricula to accompany them on the LARC website

For a listing of K-12 appropriate films used in this institute, click here