(Almost) a Mexican Family Film

Álex Perea in Zurdo

Álex Perea in Zurdo

Zurdo
Director: Carlos Salcés
Studio: Altavista Films
Mexico, 2003

Review by Martin Boyd

A series of internationally successful Mexican films over the past twenty years has led critics to speak of a Nuevo Cine Mexicano (“New Mexican Cinema”), a resurgence in Mexico’s film industry after decades of decline. With filmmakers like Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro as some of its most outstanding representatives, the movement is characterized by its dark overtones, with themes related to violence (Amores Perros), the drug trade (Rudo y Cursi), sexuality (Y tu mamá también) and the frankly grotesque (Pan’s Labyrinth), themes that are all quite popular in the world of arthouse cinema, but that don’t leave much room for the production of family films. In this context, a film like Zurdo, by Mexico City director Carlos Salces, whose protagonist is an 11-year-old with a skill for playing marbles, seems like a ray of light in the darkness for parents who want their children to see a little Mexican cinema to break up the Disney monotony. Unfortunately, in spite of many points in its favour, in the end Zurdo falls prey to the same fascination for bleak themes from which so many films of the Nuevo Cine Mexicano seem to suffer, and thus disqualifies itself as an ideal film for the whole family to enjoy.

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Remembering Gregory Rabassa

Martin Boyd

Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016)

Gregory Rabassa (1922-2016)

The world of literary translation lost one of its most important figures last month with the death of US translator Gregory Rabassa. When the so-called “Latin American boom” brought writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar to international fame in the 1960s, it was Rabassa whose well-crafted translations brought many of their masterpieces alive in the English language. For Hopscotch, his translation of Cortázar’s Rayuela, one of the first Latin American novels to receive international attention, Rabassa won the US National Book Award for Translation in 1967. However, of all of his translations the most widely read is without doubt One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century, whose author García Márquez described Rabassa as “the best Latin American writer in the English language.”

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“Nuestra Palabra” Short Story Competition: 13th edition

nuestra palabraEditorial Nuestra Palabra publishers, AMPO, and the Consulates of Spain and Peru in Toronto are pleased to announce and invite the Hispanic community in Canada, and the Hispanic-Canadian community around the world, to participate in the thirteenth annual edition of the “Nuestra Palabra” short story competition, dedicated to promoting the reading and writing of literature in Spanish and the promotion of Spanish-speaking values.

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María Enriqueta Camarillo (1872-1968)

Maria EnriquetaMaría Enriqueta Camarillo was a Mexican poet, short story writer, novelist and Translator who became one of the most important figures of Spanish-American modernism. In the years after the Mexican Revolution, her children’s books became extremely important as school text books in the context of the educational reforms of José Vasconcelos, and her importance in Mexican culture is reflected in the various libraries and schools that bear her name. She was also recognized outside Mexico, as in 1923 her novel El secreto (“The Secret”) won the Academie Francaise literary prize for best Hispanic female novel.

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Documenting the Chilean Exile Experience

peddleYoung, Well-Educated and Adaptable: Chilean Exiles in Ontario and Quebec, 1973-2010
Author: Francis Peddie
Publisher: University of Manitoba Press, Winnipeg, 2014

Review by Martin Boyd

The Spanish-speaking community is now one of Canada’s largest minority language communities. According to the 2012 national census, there are 441,000 native Spanish speakers in the country, making it Canada’s second most widely spoken minority language. Because it has grown so rapidly – from almost nothing a mere 50 years ago to its considerable size today – Hispanic Canadian history is a field still very much in its infancy. Fortunately, however, it is a field that is beginning to attract the attention of historians like Francis Peddie, whose examination of the experiences of Chilean exiles – a group of extreme importance to the establishment of this country’s Spanish-speaking community – constitutes a valuable contribution to the library of Canada’s multicultural history.

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Cervantes, 400 Years On

Isabel Martínez

miguel-de-cervantesToday marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), whose masterpiece, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605), is recognized as the first modern novel in Spanish, and a kind of bridge between the medieval and the modern in the evolution of the language. In a recent interview with the journalist Virginia Bautista, the prominent Mexican author Ignacio Padilla, himself a specialist in Cervantes’s work, describes Don Quixote as “the catalyst for the birth of modern Spanish.”

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The Infamous Three Percent

Martin Boyd

English OnlyIt is common knowledge, at least in the translation industry, that only around 3 percent of all books published in the United States are translations. Indeed, this rather dismal statistic has been enshrined in the name of one of the most important online forums for international literature, the University of Rochester’s excellent website Three Percent. In fact, however, a closer look at the statistics reveal an even worse state of affairs, as the three percent figure is bolstered considerably by technical manuals and other non-fiction texts: for literary fiction and poetry, the figure is actually closer to 0.7%.

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York University Professor Forced to Return to Costa Rica for Having a Son Who Is Different

Leonora Chapman

Felipe MontoyaOn the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on March 21, 2013, saying that: “in working life, stereotypes against persons with Down syndrome often mean they are denied vocational training opportunities and their right to work. In the political and public sphere, persons with Down syndrome and other persons with intellectual disabilities are often deprived of their right to vote and fully participate in the democratic process.”

Down syndrome can give rise to very complicated situations for individuals and families. This is one of these cases.

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The Professor who “Killed” a Translation Student

Pablo Muñoz Sánchez

SnapeNot too long ago I received an email from someone who told me a story which, unfortunately, I’ve heard from others before. The young man was a little discouraged, not because he couldn’t find work (this was also true), but because the professors in his master’s program had taught their courses while at the same time telling their students that it was terribly hard to find work as a translator, that it all operated through cronyism, and that even so, the rates were miserable.

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