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Marisol Medina-Cadena: Filming mi gente, memoria, y la cultura

Using film to understand and negotiate bi-cultural identity

For Film and Digital Media senior Marisol Medina-Cadena, witnessing the bridge construction on the National Mall was not only a spectacular engineering feat but also a great visual metaphor—linking the historical legacies of this Inka tradition to a contemporary context in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. The construction of the Q’eswachaka was a central part to this year’s Folklife Festival that facilitated the construction of cross-cultural connections between Peru and the United States.

Marisol had the opportunity to interview one bridge builder who is also the town mayor, Beltran Eustaquio Huillca Janampa, about his experience replicating the bridge in Washington, D.C. Marisol was a production intern for the 2015 Folklife Festival, Peru: Pachama. She conducted this interview, translated, edited, and produced this short piece.

About the short film Loteria Vida, Marisol says, "It is a compilation of short vignettes, memories, and reflections about experiences I had growing up trying to understand my bi-cultural identity. For as long as I can remember Loteria cards have been in my life. Images of these cards adorned clothes and accessories I owned, these cards were present at every childhood birthday party I had; a game my mother played with me so that the palabras would roll of my tongue free from the pressures of assimilation. These cards have been so much apart of my everyday life that over the years I have attributed different meanings and associations with them, at times rejecting these cards in turn rejecting my Chicana-ness, and other times embracing these cards and thus, embracing my cultura. These cards have become the markers to my memories, holders of sights and smells, stories of their own, all which is expressed in this short piece."

Marisol Medina-Cadena is a senior in the Film and Digital Media major and a 2016 recipient of the Deans and Chancellors Award creating non-fiction films that reflect Latino realities including her own Chicana experience. Much of her work examines personal and familial histories of assimilation, internalized colonialism, and identity formation.

She uses film to understand and negotiate her bi-cultural identity, and investigate what it means to be brown in the U.S.  When not creating autobiographical work, she is committed to highlighting the voices of Latino artists including her series of digital shorts about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, profiling Peruvian artisans. All her works are intended to inform, activate, and engage viewers to consider the ways in which the cultural and political are manifested in the everyday.