This Fall semester, all three sections of SPA209 welcomed filmmakers Melina León and Anthony Lucero as guest speakers to share more about the making of their debut feature films. On October 4th, Peruvian filmmaker Melina León presented her critically acclaimed film, Canción sin nombre, which was nominated for the Best Ibero-American film at the Goya Awards in 2022 and was Peru’s International Feature Film entry for the Oscars the previous year. This conversation, generously supported by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Humanities Council and the Department of Music, provided invaluable insights to the creative process. Students learned more about the historical context, the writing process, the arduous casting, location scouting and the collaboration with Japanese-Peruvian music composer Pauchi Sasaki. León also described the impact of having her film premiered at the Cannes 2019 Directors’ Fortnight and being the first Peruvian woman filmmaker to be invited at that festival.
A month later, on November 14th, Anthony Lucero shared his experience on writing, directing and editing his award-winning film East Side Sushi over the course of many years. This conversation, generously supported by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Department of East Asian Studies and the Lewis Center for the Arts, shed light on the challenges and rewards of being an independent filmmaker who had to self-finance his film. Lucero also described the demands of the casting process as the movie is in Spanish, English and Japanese. He also emphasized the importance of revisions in the writing process as he had the script reviewed and critiqued by several speakers of Japanese, to ensure accuracy and authenticity.
These conversations were powerful reminders that films are narratives that carry behind them years of perseverance, a firm conviction in one’s creative voice and pushing through unexpected hurdles. Students gained a more nuanced and empathetic understanding of both films by asking questions about specific scenes, dynamics between characters and technical strategies studied in the course. These eye-opening conversations also encourage all of us to produce interpretations that are more creative, insightful and grounded.