Leigh Mercer Creates Seminar on Hispanic Film and Organizing Film Festivals

MercerLeigh Mercer (Spanish & Portuguese Studies) has developed a new graduate seminar based on her work as a 2016 Mellon Summer Fellow for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities. The fellowship, part of the Simpson Center’s Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program, gathers a cohort of UW faculty to develop new courses with significant public scholarship components. 

The course, Hispanic Film Programming and the Film Festival Phenomenon, offered in winter 2018, arises from Leigh’s conviction that organizing film festivals can be a valuable form of cultural production. Faculty in area studies and literature and language departments are increasingly asked to organize film series, Leigh says.

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Film festivals in particular offer scholars a unique opportunity to connect with broader audiences, and this course trains students in the critical implications of festival organization. Students develop both practical curatorial experience and a greater historical understanding of the film festival as a phenomenon, while also examining what it means to translate their area studies expertise for new publics.        

The cinema of the Hispanic World will be our case study. Students gain a foundation in Spanish and Latin American film history from 1896 to the present, while also connecting with local and international experts in film programming, including personnel at the Guanajuato Film Festival, SIFF, the Seattle Latino Film Festival, the Cervantes Institute, and the Sitges Film Festival. Most importantly, students work throughout our quarter of study in small curatorial groups to prepare a small-scale film festival for Latino high school students in Washington State, with all of the relevant accompanying documentation.

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The course joins Feminist New Media Studies from Regina Yung Lee (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies) as new seminars arising from the Reimagining program.

Leigh also serves on the Simpson Center Executive Board and was a member of the 2014-15 Society of Scholars, where she worked on her book project on Spanish cinema.

Congratulations, Leigh! 

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