Film night at the Spanish embassy
Hola. Buenas noches. Here's a glass of wine, some kettle corn and a Spanish documentary. Now that's my kind of night.
A few weeks ago I went to see Las Maestras de la República at the Spanish Embassy. The filmmaker, Pilar Pérez Solano, held a Q+A after the film. I love love love seeing films and especially foreign cinema at embassies! With wine! The fact that the filmmaker was actually there to answer questions made it even more fantastic.
DC obviously has a ton of embassies and many of them host similar events, but there are similar events in every city. When I lived in San Francisco my friend and I would go to the French Embassy for French film night -- $3, a glass of wine and un film français.
I'm one of those people that likes going to movies alone, which is good because not everyone would be super excited to see a documentary about teachers during Spain's Second Republic, in Spanish. And I admit, I kind of dozed off during one part, but I'll blame it on the vino.
The film chronicles the life of one teacher and interweaves, interviews, archival footage and stories of similar women during the time period. These women worked to revolutionize education and personified feminist ideals. They made major progress during that short period (1931-39) before the Spanish Civil War started.
Las Maestras Republicanas fueron unas mujeres valientes y comprometidas que participaron en la conquista de los derechos de las mujeres y en la modernización de la educación, basada en los principios de la escuela pública y democrática.
While I've learned about the Second Republic, I have never learned about the 'maestras' (teachers) that worked towards the goal of providing an education for all and who broke down gender and class barriers in the process. Having taught at a few public schools in Spain, I can say first hand that it is really unfortunate that the work these women started was stopped-banned even-under Franco. While I only experienced a few schools, it was pretty clear that the education system in Spain is a bit messed up, and machismo and racism are still huge issues in Spanish society. Hopefully unearthing the stories of these trailblazers will help inspire some new direction and the next generation of change makers amongst Spain's educators.
When asked why she made the film, creator Pilar Pérez Solano said she wanted to share the stories of inspirational women, Spanish feminists of this era...that it's hard to find female role models to look up to and that once she found them she wanted to make sure others knew about them (I'm paraphrasing, it was in Spanish, so yeah). She also had not learned about the work of these women prior and once she started researching quickly become entranced. Understandably so. She's totally right. We need these stories. We need to hear about the work of the women before us -- even if it has nearly been erased.
The greatest gift we can give is inspiration to future generations. Not just a record of what has been done before, but a reminder that even if it is totally destroyed, if we're forgotten, hidden, punished, exiled for our creations, our progress, our dreams of a better world, even if that is all buried in a deep hole where no google search can find it, that the very existence of it is important. That the work matters even if it's not posted or cataloged or liked. That working for change will last.
And someday, if you are truly doing your best work towards a greater good, you may be uncovered by some documentarian of the future. And your story might be told to inspire future generations. Just like the stories of las maestras de la república was uncovered to inspire me.