Sunday, July 24, 2016

Consciousness-raising short films from Latin America and Spain

5 Top reasons to add Desconexión to your curriculum 
Top 5 Reasons why you should add Desconexión to your curriculum! Click on caption for PPT. 

For the past two years, my upper level Spanish class has been captured by the short film- Desconexión by  Yecid Johanan. The film tells the harrowing story of a father who tries to save his son's life, but is challenged in doing so from a series of compounding missed steps in his journey.  This of course is the surface story. The upper story points to societal vices, mindsets and other paradigms that prevent people from progressing. This film was produced by a father and son team from Bolivia. Although the film highlights stumbling blocks relevant to that society, it could be applied to any place in Latin America and abroad.

The first time I showed this 20 minute short film, one of my students got up and left the room. He was so angered by the outcome of the film-not me for showing it-but his response was cathartic in nature. The ending has a mega twist that kept my class talking for days.

I used this litany of pre and post viewing activity. The mini unit is culminated with a film critique. These documents are part of my film unit (and I revised them constantly). That said, once students get to the film critique that is attached they've had a pretty good idea of what I am looking for in terms of the writing.

Check out this teacher's Movie Packet. I purchased it and use it every time I watch a movie.

The Devil's Miner is another great film that highlights Bolivia. My colleagues and I showed to our Spanish III students and it was a hit. The movie is spoken in Spanish but has English subtitles. Bolivian Spanish is so incredibly beautiful and very easy to understand. Click here for the English packet to the movies by Click here for the Spanish packet for the movie by

What films to do you explore in your curriculum?

Cortometraje Eres
 Interpretive Mode Visual Literacy

This year I used a ton of Latin American short and long feature films associated with a particular theme. One of my favs is the short film "Eres" which, is aptly named because all the friends of the protagonist preface every interaction with  " Eres."  This is the second year I have used this film, available on here on Youtube.

 I use this film explore the notion of self concept through my unit on  Identity. Prior to showing this film, students have read one of these articles on Identity in groups, learned additional vocabulary and have previewed, discussed and engaged in several interpretive listening  activities with this activity on Argentine Identity and Teens. The film is superior to touching on the  identity and even self-esteem. However, the dialogue can be difficult to understand when you add the speed of light pace of the conversations and other nuances.  To facilitate listening and to lower the filter,  I created some listening, viewing and reading activities to offset the language barrier . The cool thing is that most of the vocabulary that I have included  is in very clear sound bites through the film.

My students really loved the film because they really saw how other people take part in forming our identity. Many students think they are "themselves" but this film points out our nature to conform as well as how to preserve our own identity- at least that was the lesson I extrapolated. Please enjoy this free resources and let me know what you think. I am curious as to how other educators approach the theme of identity in the class, especially since this topic has dominated the media nationally in the last few years.  If you have any questions, please send me an email at

One more thing...
The film is more of an PG-13. It is about 10 minutes and my students have liked it for the past two years (or 1.5 years). There is no nudity although there is a 5 second showing of two of the characters kissing while falling onto the bed. 

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