Work by UO’s Gabriela Martínez featured in Cine-Lit conference

Gabriela Martínez
Gabriela Martínez

When filmmakers, writers and academics from all over the world gather in Portland later this week for a conference on Hispanic film and literature, UO’s professor Gabriela Martínez’s work will be among those invited.

Cine-Lit VIII will focus on women cineastes, cinema and ideology, marginalized voices in Hispanic cinema and Hispanic cinema in the U.S. and the classroom. Martínez, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, will screen her documentary “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” on Saturday at the White Stag Block.

Cine-Lit is an international conference and academic collaboration between the departments of foreign languages and literature at Oregon State, Portland State and the UO and is connected to the Portland International Film Festival. Started in 1990 and scheduled every three years, Cine-Lit will take place Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 19-21, at various locations in Portland.

Martinez’s documentary tells the story of Guatemala's National Police Historical Archive intertwined with narratives of past human rights abuses and the dramatic effects they had on specific individuals and the nation as a whole. In addition, it highlights present-day efforts to preserve collective memories and bring justice and reconciliation to the country.

“Gabriela’s participation in the conference highlights the goal of Cine-Lit, which is to provide a venue for critical analysis of the relationship between Hispanic culture, cinematography and fiction,” said Gina Herrmann, UO professor of Spanish. “Her experience as a documentary maker and researcher gives Gabriela a unique and broad approach for the teaching and sharing of theoretical knowledge, as well as hands-on production skills.”

Martínez began working on “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” in 2011 after the police archive was discovered in 2005.

“During the war, there were horrific human rights abuses involving the police and military,” Martinez said. “When the peace accord was signed in 1996, the police denied the existence of the archive, but millions of documents found in 2005 show that they kept records of all the things they were doing against their own people.

“There are several archives of this nature in the world. The Nazis kept a similar archive. This is one of the most important archives in Latin America.”

Working in collaboration with others from the UO — including Stephanie Wood, director of the Wired Humanities Project; history professor Carlos Aguirre; and Andrew Kirkpatrick, from the Center for Media and Technology — Martínez made several trips to Guatemala to tell the story of the place and the importance of opening state-run archives.

“It tells the story of the archive and its connection to past human rights abuses in the country. At the same time it’s about the hope for justice and reconciliation,” Martínez said. “Newer generations can learn about their history and better understand what happened. It helps to rebuild trust amongst citizens and the state, which should be protecting its people.”

In addition to human rights and social justice issues, Martínez’s research also focuses on women, minority and gender issues related to the media; her next documentary looks at the overall history of Latinos in Oregon. She also is the associate director for the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society.

“All of our invited, international filmmakers, directors, screenwriters and literary study specialists will add to a unique and dynamic venue in which faculty and students can further their research agendas,” said Hermann, who is a co-director of the conference with Isabel Jaen Portillo from PSU and Guy Wood from OSU. “UO participants will come from the departments of Spanish, comparative literature and cinema studies.”

For more information about the Cine-Lit VIII conference, visit the website.

—By Heidi Hiaasen, Public Affairs Communications