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SLU-Madrid Sponsors Film Festival in Galicia

by Isaiah Voss on 07/08/2024


To further study the Festival de Cans' cultural contributions, SLU-Madrid communication program Director Rosana Vivar, Ph.D., brought students to the town of Porriño to assist with ethnographic research.

In late May, Saint Louis University — Madrid sponsored the 21st edition of the Festival de Cans, a film festival in a rural Galicia town that attracts well-known actors and directors in Spanish cinema.

In 2019, Vivar started a project to define the social significance of the event as an ethnographer. This year, her goal is to find a method to preserve a permanent archive.

"The organizers have collected things and have kept them throughout 20 years, and there’s a lot of material that has been kept and loosely organized, but it needs to be more systematic," said Vivar.

She invited three communication majors to help conduct research during the weeklong film festival the week of May 21. All completely bilingual, Ernesto Lange Rooks, Lara Mitchell Guirao and Alejandro Silvestre Martínez interviewed Festival de Cans attendees to gather information for Vivar's project.

Two students sitting on a ledge while being interviewed by press that are holding a microphone and camera

Students Lara Mitchell Guirao and Alejandro Silvestre Martínez speak to Galician media about their research. Submitted photo.

With answers from 192 respondents, the students' efforts have deepened Vivar's understanding of the Festival de Cans while also representing SLU-Madrid in northwestern Spain.

The data on the audience experience and attendees' demographics has given Vivar a better snapshot of live moments.

"Because of the nature of film festivals, they’re always focused on the present — the very ephemeral," she said. "For instance, printed materials like hand programs and catalogs that only have relevance for the moment the festival is being celebrated."

Two students and a professor pose while sitting on a rock with a sculpture made of rock behind them.
Lara Mitchell Guirao, Rosana Vivar and Ernesto Lange Rooks (left to right) pose with the Festival de Cans monument behind them. Submitted photo.

Vivar explained that the Festival de Cans' importance goes beyond movies because it has created momentum to preserve traditional folklore and pagan culture native to the area.

Now having a base for research, Vivar will return to Galicia this week to hold focus groups to see what the festival means to people there.

The Festival de Cans hopes to find a sponsor to create a space that will house its history and culture.

"It's an archive of the film festival, but it's also going to be a great archive of the town," said Vivar.