Thursday, November 03, 2011

Laura Varela at UTSA Colloquium


National Recognition of Local Documentary Filmmaker

The University of Texas, San Antonio-October 20, 2011- - Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, As Long As I Remember, Laura Varela’s documentary on Chicanos during the Viet Nam War aired on PBS stations throughout the country. This film engages ideas about post-traumatic stress syndrome in the context of activism and the role of art in memory.

The Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, in conjunction with the Consortium for Social Transformation, History Department, and American Studies program at UTSA, will celebrate the national debut and recognition of San Antonio’s documentary filmmaker’s work. While documentary films are developing a market, the recognition of her work and the development of documentaries from a Chicana/o perspective are still needed.

It was Varela’s activism and work with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and support form the Humanities Texas Funding, and Latino Public Broadcasting that moved American Public Media to air this vital documentary.

Varela stated that her idea was always to have it on PBS, to get national audiences to understand the Mexican American experience. Prior to its national airing, the film has been presented at veteran’s centers, with veterans’ groups, and the response has been great. Ms. Varela has received many personal letters, like from a veteran who said that the film “filled a hole that couldn’t be healed.” Additionally, letters from children of Viet Nam vets, who felt alone in their experience, expressed having a fuller historical understanding of the era.

With this documentary, it is Varela’s hope to use the film as an educational venue for universities and high schools where discussions about Chicanos in the military, art, or PTSD would examine the different perspectives that the film offers.

The event is part of the Mexican American Studies Campus-Community Colloquium as part of UTSA’s strategic initiative to serve the public by offering programs that expand the community’s awareness of Mexican American history through the visual and cultural arts. The MAS/Community Colloquium with Laura Varela will be held on Wednesday, November 9th, at UTSA, Downtown Campus, Buena Vista Building. Reception begins at 5:30 pm and film with questions and answers to follow.

Contact Information:
Dr. Marie Miranda, Director Mexican American Studies