The MSU Latinx Film Festival (LxFF), founded in 2017 by Scott Boehm, Assistant Professor of Spanish, along with four graduate students in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, has received the Excellence in Diversity Award in the Team Award Emerging Progress category.
“My immediate reaction [to winning the Excellence in Diversity Award] was that while this award is important for consolidating LxFF’s place on campus and its reputation within the university, it is more important for MSU, since it signals university-wide recognition of the importance and value of the Latinx community, both on campus and within the state of Michigan,” Boehm said. “That has not always been the case, and part of the mission of LxFF has been to change that through the celebration and critical engagement with Latinx cinema and culture from across the U.S. and around the world, especially Latin America.”
LxFF is a biennial, curated film festival with annual special events serving the state of Michigan with a special focus on the diverse Latinx communities of Michigan State University, the greater Lansing area, and the mid-Michigan region.
“The festival provides a dynamic space for people from different cultural backgrounds to mix and mingle with each other while engaging with Latinx films that aren’t readily available in Michigan,” Boehm said.
The festival mission is to create a space for the celebration and promotion of Latinx cinema, inclusively Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Indigenous language films from Latin America, Spain, the United States, and Canada.
“We wanted to contribute not just showing different films, but acknowledging that diversity, that difference of our community,” said Claudia Berríos-Campos one of the graduate students who helped establish the LxFF.
The festival provides a dynamic space for people from different cultural backgrounds to mix and mingle with each other while engaging with Latinx films that aren’t readily available in Michigan.Scott Boehm, Assistant Professor of Spanish
The first edition of the Latinx Film Festival was held in February 2018. Various special events then were held in 2019 and the second edition of the festival took place in 2020.
“We were very fortunate to have held the second edition of the festival just weeks before the pandemic arrived to Michigan and everything shutdown, making it one of the last major in-person cultural events held on campus,” Boehm said.
Only three years after it began, the Latinx Film Festival is winning awards. The Excellence in Diversity Recognition and Awards Program (EIDA) was created to promote and encourage support of diversity by recognizing individuals, teams, units, and organizations that have performed above and beyond what they were hired or designated to do, to demonstrate outstanding leadership and creativity in the area of diversity.
“It’s been a great space, not just the physical, but educational, a social space that we have created with the Latinx Film Festival,” said José Badillo Carlos one of the graduate students who helped establish the LxFF.
Anthony Grubbs, Chair of the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, and María Isabel Ayala, Associate Professor of Sociology and the Chicano/Latino Studies Program, nominated the Latinx Film Festival for the award.
“By exposing MSU and communities throughout Michigan to Latinx cinema, the MSU Latinx Film Festival not only celebrates diversity, but advances people’s understanding and appreciation of Latinx contributions,” Ayala said. “Moreover, Latinx cinema brings attention not only to the challenges that Latinx folks face daily, but also their resilience and strength in overcoming them and in doing so, reframe the narrative.”
By exposing MSU and communities throughout Michigan to Latinx cinema, the MSU Latinx Film Festival not only celebrates diversity, but advances people’s understanding and appreciation of Latinx contributions.María Isabel Ayala, Associate Professor of Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies Program
Moving forward, Boehm hopes this recognition will help the Latinx Film Festival to expand.
“I hope it means that we can count on greater financial and institutional support from the university in the future so we can realize our vision to convert LxFF into a festival of reference in the Great Lakes region,” Boehm said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Latinx Film Festival has been postponed since so much of the festival involves in-person interactions around the film screenings, live concerts, and special events that constitute the festival.
“I look forward to holding a live event again sometime in 2022,” Boehm said, “while the third edition of the festival has been postponed until 2023.”
To learn more about the festival, visit the MSU Latinx Film Festival website.