Unidos Film Festival shines spotlight on Mexican-American heritage

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The Unidos Film Festival kicks off with Jon Coughlin, chief organizer, who is in prep-mode for the six-month affair.

Last year’s theme was centered on the struggle for African-American civil rights. This year’s series, Unidos, which translates to “united” in Spanish, takes on the same approach, only with a different minority group. “Unidos seeks to examine the struggle for Mexican American civil rights in a historical context but also looks at contemporary policies that attempt to marginalize Chicano history and culture,” Coughlin said.

The four films being showcased are “Precious Knowledge” (Wednesday, September 30), “The Longoria Affair” (Thursday, November 5), “A Class Apart” (Wednesday, February 24), and “The State of Arizona” (Thursday, April 7).

Coughlin not only teaches history, he also lives it. “Having grown up in this state and being married to the child of Mexican immigrants, I am well aware that the struggle for civil rights was not something that was confined to one region or people,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin said that the most rewarding part of cultivating various films is endorsing education outside of school. Last year’s event averaged around 100 to 120 attendees per film, which not only comes from students, but family, friends, children, spouses—to name a few—who came out to support the festival beyond basic viewership.

According to Coughlin, the goal this year is to maintain the high number of students and loved ones involved in the festival. In addition, he hopes that last year’s showcase will be used as a stepping stone to add onto the previous success and further promote community awareness. An example of this can be seen through MEChA, a student group on campus who partnered with the Unidos Film Festival to tirelessly promote the four films.

Natalie Gonzalez is one of the many sponsors helping out. “The promotion will not only attract people, but it will also bring awareness to people about past and current issues,” Gonzalez said. “I have seen and gone through the many struggles undocumented immigrants face. These films not only serve as a reminder of the issues that are occurring today, but they also serve as motivation to keep striving for a better future.”

Admission to all films is free. In addition, there will be a plethora of speakers, including head of the Arizona NAACP Charles Fanniel. It is also confirmed that Chad Campbell, former Minority Speaker of the Arizona House, is among the guest list for “The State of Arizona”, during which he will share his response on the fight over SB1070, the state-mandated law that heavily opposes immigration.

Catch the premiere of the Unidos Film Festival September 30 at 6:30 in the Student Union, 104DE.

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