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March 31, 2010

CWE Lecturer Wins Cartagena Film Festival Award

 Carlos Aguasaco

Carlos Aguasaco

A short film by Carlos Aguasaco, a Spanish lecturer in The City College of New York’s (CCNY) Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, has won for best video in the art category at the Cartagena (Colombia) International Film Festival.  Mr. Aguasaco, who is also an alumnus of CCNY, wrote, produced and directed “Medialengua” (“Half Tongue”), a short story about a word in Spanish being confused with an English word.

“I have known Carlos since his time as a student of our MA program in Spanish, when I was chair of the Department,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Mercado, dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, which is based at the Center for Worker Education in Lower Manhattan.  “Immediately we noted that not only was he one of our best students but also a talented poet. This part of his life as a short story filmmaker was unknown to me, but it makes sense given his artistic talent and great curiosity.”

According to Mr. Aguasaco, the film’s plot deals with the confusion around the meaning of the Spanish word “embarazada” (meaning pregnant) and the English word “embarrassed;” words that sound similar. “Medialengua,” the main character, enters in a semantic whirlpool that affects the life and work of her teachers. “This is a story of a semantic dispute and a girl searching for meaning,” said Mr. Aguasaco, who holds a MA in Spanish from CCNY and a BA in literature from the National University of Colombia.

Mr. Aguasaco wrote “Medialengua” as a short story in 2004.  At the time, he was teaching high school in New York and going to graduate school at CCNY.

“Formally my intention was to write a short story in Spanglish,” said the native of Bogota, Colombia. “I wanted every sentence to mix both languages.  I also wanted to represent the victims of a failing educational system, in this case an English teacher suffering the consequences of false accusations of misconduct, and his accuser, a girl coming to age in the middle of a dysfunctional family marked by violent behavior.”

Enrique del Risco included the short story in “Pequeñas Resistencias,” an anthology published in Spain in 2005.  In December 2009, Mr. Aguasaco’s younger brother, Jhon, an accomplished visual artist, convinced him to adapt “Medialengua”  for the Cartagena video art competition.

“My friend María Yrene Santos, an adjunct lecturer at CCNY, helped me train her daughter, Pilar Gonzales, to impersonate “Medialengua.”  I made several versions of the film and decided that the shortest one was the best option.”

The prize has encouraged Mr. Aguasaco to further develop his interest in audiovisual productions.  “My career as an academic has taken me to study the relationship between popular culture (cinema and television) and literature in Latin America,” he said.  “In my research, I have found that, as modes of representation, literature and audiovisual art are not contradictory but complementary.  I will keep exploring new forms of representation.  As my brother says: “every work of art is resolved in a different form.””

Currently, Mr. Aguasaco is working on a short film entitled “Y él me dijo que that´s it” (“And he told me, that’s it”). In this film, he explores the cult-like following of some works of art and the extravagance and fetishism that surrounds art interventions and installations in galleries around the world.  However, the main subject of this project is teen pregnancy and how “artists” could use it to achieve fame and prestige.

About the Cartagena International Film Festival
The Cartagena International Film Festival, produced in collaboration with Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano Seccional Caribe and the Formation Center of The Spanish Agency for International Co-operation (AECI), is the oldest film festival in Latin America.  It began in 1960 and takes place yearly during the months of February and March.  In 2010 the festival celebrated its 50th edition.  The award categories include best feature film, best short film, best documentary and best video art. The winners in each category receive the Golden India Catalina statuette (Premio India Catalina).

CWE Contact Information
Elena Romero, Communications Coordinator, CWE, (212) 925-6625 x 258, eromero@ccny.cuny.edu.

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