The annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival returns to Lawrence University Oct. 26-29. It will feature a movie premiere and a visit from an award-winning filmmaker.

Held on campus annually since launching in 2012, the film festival is an independent event organized by Rosa Tapia, professor of Spanish, and Cecilia Herrera, instructor of Spanish, with an assist from Lawrence alumna Francesca Romero Siekman ’11, a staunch supporter of the festival who Tapia said shares her “professional knowledge and experience in the Mexican and Latin American film industry.”

Admission to Warch Campus Center Cinema on the Lawrence campus is free; the films are in Spanish language with English subtitles.

“This festival features six great films from various Spanish-speaking countries,” Tapia said. “All of them are new, some from this year, including a premiere on Saturday, Oct. 28 for a film that hasn’t had a theatrical release in the U.S. yet. Kudos to Cecilia Herrera who, once again, pulled out all the stops to bring this amazing slate of films to our campus.”

Tapia said the unofficial theme of opening day is a reflection on historical journeys from dictatorship to democracy and beyond, with a special focus on Chile and Argentina. The festival opens with a lecture by retired professor Patricia Vilches about the meaning of the 50-year anniversary of the coup d’etat in Chile. Vilches is professor emerita of Spanish and Italian.

“She has continued to research and publish actively on topics related to Latin American cultural history, sociopolitical literary studies, material culture, and space studies,” Tapia said.

In a still from Argentina, 1985, two men are seen in a courtroom.
Argentina, 1985 will be shown on Oct. 26.

The Vilches lecture will be followed by the showing of the historical drama/thriller Chile ‘76, which portrays the suffocating and terrifying early years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorial regime from the point of view of a middle-class housewife who finds herself helping a young fugitive. The second film of the night is Argentina, 1985, a courtroom drama that’s based on the true story of prosecutors who brought members of the Argentine military junta to justice.

The film festival will feature an appearance on Oct. 28 by filmmaker Enrique M. Rizo, who was a producer for the Oscar-winning film Roma. Rizo is coming from Mexico to present his documentary film, Un Lugar Llamado Música (A Place Called Music). The work narrates the musical journeys and collaboration between an indigenous musician, Daniel Medina, and the composer Philip Glass.

Conversation and culture combine in the Spanish program at Lawrence.

“We think Lawrentians will love this beautiful movie and appreciate the opportunity to engage with the director after the screening,” Tapia said. “That same night we are thrilled to offer the premiere of Perdidos en la Noche (Lost in the Night), an award-winning film by the famous director Amat Escalante, which hasn’t been released in U.S. theaters yet. In fact, Lawrence is one of just two places in the country that are being allowed to show Escalante’s film in late October.”

See more on the Latin American and Spanish Film Festival here.

This year’s lineup includes:

Oct. 26

4:30 p.m: Chile ’76 (Drama, Chile, 2022), directed by Manuela Martelli. (Preceded by “Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Chile, 50 Years After the Coup,” a talk by retired professor Patricia Vilches.) Three years after Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile through a coup, establishing a military dictatorship, housewife Carmen finds herself drawn out from her comfortable lifestyle into playing a more active role in the resistance.

8 p.m.: Argentina, 1985 (Biography/Crime/Drama, Argentina, 2022), directed by Santiago Mitre. The true story of how a public prosecutor, a young lawyer, and their inexperienced legal team dares to prosecute the heads of Argentina’s bloody military dictatorship.

Oct. 27

5 p.m.: La Pecera (The Fishbowl) (Drama, Puerto Rico, 2023), directed by Glorimar Marrero Sánchez. As cancer spreads, Noelia ultimately decides to return to her native Puerto Rico to claim her freedom and decide her own fate. She reunites with her friends and family, who are still dealing with contamination of the U.S. Navy after 60 years of military practices.

7 p.m.: Noche Latina at LU, Warch Campus Center. Talk by Ariela Rosa, dance/live music.

Oct. 28

5 p.m.: Un Lugar Llamado Música (A Place Called Music) (Documentary, Mexico, 2022), followed by Q&A with director Enrique M. Rizo. This documentary depicts a musical journey between Mexican Wixárika musician Daniel Medina and American composer Philip Glass. Through a friendship that lacks words but abounds in must, they demonstrate that music is also a place in which lies an understanding of the most abstract forms of human emotions.

8 p.m.: Perdidos en la Noche (Lost in the Night) (Drama/Thriller, Mexico, 2023), directed by Amat Escalante. In a small mining town in Mexico, Emiliano searches for those responsible for the disappearance of his activist mother. Receiving no help from the police, he finds a clue that leads him to the wealthy Aldama family. It’s not long before he has a job at their home and becomes determined to uncover the secrets beneath the surface.

Oct. 29

2 p.m.: As Bestas (The Beasts) (Drama/Thriller, Spain, 2022), directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen. A French couple move to a Galician town in search of a closer relationship with nature. However, a conflict with their neighbors, the Anta brothers, cause tensions to grow until the situation reaches a point of no return.

For more information, contact Herrera at or Tapia at