History explored through ‘The Mexican Suitcase’

By Ivan Aguilar

The Cultural Centers of Cal Poly Pomona kicked off the Cultural
Centers Film Series on Thursday, in which the 2011 documentary “The
Mexican Suitcase,” was shown in the Centaurus room.

Lorena Marquez, the coordinator of the Cesar E. Chavez Center
for Higher Education presented the documentary film, which brought
to light the Spanish Civil War negatives that were found in Mexico
City in 2007.

The negatives were created by non-Spanish photojournalists
Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David “Chim” Seymour during the
military revolt that took place from 1936 to 1939.

These photographers took a risk and documented pictures that
will forever speak the history of the Spanish Civil War.

The film by Trisha Ziff shows some of the 4,500 negatives that
were found in Mexico City. The film also tells the story of
ordinary people living in Spain during and after the war that
ultimately led many Spaniards to flee to France and Mexico.

Despite a relatively low turnout at the event, the people who
were in attendance at the seemed to have enjoyed the film. Everyone
applauded and participated to say what their favorite part was.

Lucia Soriano, a fourth-year gender, ethnic and multicultural
studies student said she enjoyed watching the documentary and
learning more about the event and the suffering that families went
through in the Spanish Civil War.

“I loved it [the movie]. I went to Madrid last summer and no one
ever mentioned it. I definitely see now why people weren’t talking
about it because they were hurt by having to move and obviously a
lot of people died and lost their family members,” said
Soriano.

In addition, Soriano also mentioned that having these events
help her identify with her ethnic background.

“The importance of these events is definitely to spread more
awareness to other cultures. I’m Mexican, so it’s really cool to
see that other cultures moved to Mexico and Mexico had their arms
open for other countries to come in. I never knew that happened so
it’s great to see that we do have those connections with other
countries,” said Soriano.

In the film, there were many archeologists, photographers and
war veterans that spoke about the struggles that the Spanish Civil
War soldiers had to endure and how it was great that someone was
able to take the pictures.

This seemed to incite emotion and many viewers were reminded a
little of what these events mean not only to the people who watch
the film, but also to each individual’s culture.

Luis Diaz, a fourth-year gender, ethnic and multicultural
studies student said that having these events are important to him
because of his roots.

“I try to attend as many events as I can. I am very specific to
what my ethnic community has to offer, so if it talks about Mexican
culture, I try to attend the event,” said Diaz.

Diaz also said that the importance of an event like the Cultural
Film Series is to let people look back on events that people still
wonder about today.

“I think that the importance of having events like this is
letting people know about the history, what happened, how it
happened and how it has changed and formed us,” said Diaz.

Marquez had her own input on the documentary and how pictures
truly do speak louder than words.

“Well I think there is something about photography for me that
speaks volume in terms of trying to reach different communities and
different messages, so when I first saw the film, I really was
immediately moved to try and bring the film to Cal Poly Pomona,”
said Marquez.

Despite of the low turnout of students at the event, Marquez
hopes that future films will bring in more people and more students
will have the chance to see some documentaries that are not
mainstream.

“It’s called the Cultural Centers Film Series so this is our
first one out of the series and we will have one more in the winter
and two more in the spring, so we hope that we can bring about
documentaries outside of the mainstream media that can help create
some educational components to film,” said Marquez.

For those who were not able to attend the first cultural film
series, the next event entitled “California’s Lost Tribe” will be
held on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Centaurus room.

The Mexican Suitcase

The Mexican Suitcase

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