Swaying and sashaying in colorful skirts, the art of Mexican folk dancing illuminated the screen on March 6 in the Chicano Resource Center.
The film Better, a drama directed by John Cantu, follows the story of a Mexican folk dancer that has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and hides it from her fellow dancers.
The audience was taken on a journey with Lily, the protagonist, who fights to overcome her struggles.
Better was the first film screened for the Mesa Cooperativa’s Chicano film series.
Christopher Sandoval, Mesa Cooperativa president, said that the purpose of the film series is to give Mesa Cooperativa organizations an opportunity to showcase a film that relates to their community.
The films are meant to share the experience with Cal State Fullerton and allow the organizations to moderate and discuss with their first-hand account.
Co-hosts for the film, the CSUF club Ballet Folklorico, was in charge of moderating the discussion and led the question and answer portion following the film.
“It is important for us to participate in these events because it’s a great opportunity to get to know other areas in our campus. Its also a great way for other organizations to see that we do not only dance but we also try to teach and educate others of our history and our culture,” said Catalina Gonzalez, Ballet Folklorico president.
Gonzalez said they chose Better because it’s relevant to the passion they have not only for dance, but to educate one another.
“Sometimes it’s hard to open up to people, especially in our club. Sometimes its hard to let everyone know you’re going through hard times because you want everyone to think you are strong,” Gonzalez said.
For Gonzalez and the other members of Ballet Folklorico the film gives insight into the dance culture in Mexico.
Jacqueline Sedano, co-artistic director of Ballet Folklorico and member of the group for four years, said the club allows her to be able to live, share, and educate the Hispanic culture through dance.
“For me, Ballet Folklorico means a way to learn Mexican history, art, to educate others, and keep the history alive and it’s also a stress reliever,” said Sedano.
Sandoval said he relates to the film as a “folklorista” because he feels the passion and identity of dancing Mexican Folk dance that the characters engage in throughout the film.
“Furthermore, Latino stigmas and values are expressed throughout the film, and gave much relevance to my upbringing,” said Sandoval.
Better and upcoming films will likely be shown at the Chicano Resource Center to support the cultural resource center and provide an intimate setting, Sandoval said.
According to Sandoval, the center acts as a home away from home for the Latino community on campus.
Elizabeth Suarez, Chicano Resource Center coordinator, said that the resource center and Mesa Cooperativa share an organic bond.
“These two entities work in collaboration to reach as many students as possible by creating a natural partnership when ideas are brought to the table,” Suarez said.
Suarez said that the Chicano Resource Center serves as a hub that provides a number of resources for Latino and non-Latino students who have an interest in researching the history, culture and politics of the Latino culture.
Being under the umbrella of the Chicano and Latino student organization, Mesa Cooperativa serves to promote the needs of Latino students.
The club also works to provide academic and social opportunities for students through activities such as these film showings.
Mesa Cooperativa was founded in 1992 by Chicano and Latino students and faculty members interested in a supporting network for students on campus.
Since then it has brought cultural, social and educational events to students.
Norman Zeledon, vice president of Mesa Cooperativa, said that the club helps to promote and highlight the Latino and Chicano community on campus with their 14 organizations.
Future film screenings in associations with the Mesa Cooperativa film series, such as Destino, are in progress, according to Gonzalez.