Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Difference is Clear

The Oaxaca International Film Festival runs from November 12 until November 19. My friend Jane Robinson, who owns the lovely boutique hotel, Casa Colonial, is in heaven. Her hotel is full of film people discussing their films, going over scripts and generally exchanging ideas.

Yesterday, after comida at the not so inexpensive Biznaga Restaurant, Jane and I walked over to Teatro Juarez, where we watched a film from Argentina

Our moderator gave a brief introduction to the film and suggested we all stay after the film because the producer would be available to answer questions. “This is the sweetest part of the event,” she said.

I don’t speak Spanish well enough to understand every single word in a conversation. Nevertheless, I speak well enough to get the gist, and to appreciate the cultural differences between Latinos and those who are from north of the border. Latinos like to be very polite, and give elaborate explanations. Those of us from north of the border like to cut to the chase and get to the point.

When the director asked for questions, each Latino’s preamble went something like this:

“My name is Maria Mendez. I’m a student of cinema.”

“I enjoyed your film very much, thank-you for bringing it to us. Although it is a very dark and morbid film, it is also very beautiful. You combine darkness and beauty perfectly. The contrast was very emotional and moving. “

“My question is this. . .”

Another friend of mine, Marga Schubert, was in the audience. She is an English speaker with almost perfect Spanish fluency. She had a question. No introduction, no compliments simply the question, “Where is this place.” In other words, where was the film shot?

The producer understood her question, and I understood his answer. The film was produced in Northern Argentina, a distance from Buenos Aires, at a museum.

Marga’s question was efficient and to the point. It did its job. But, it lacked the charm, finesse and elegance of the questions asked by her fellow film watchers who were Latino.

I was amused. Estoy viviando la diferencia.

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