Oklahoma Mon Amour: The Impossible South
From huma2422 Humanities Forum on March 1st, 2021
A discussion of the film Oklahoma Mon Amour (dir. Carolina Rueda, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and 202-21 Arts & Humanities Forum Faculty Grantee at the University of Oklahoma.)
Professor of Film and English Literature at the University of Zaragoza. His research interests include Film Theory and Contemporary Cinema in Context of Transnationalism, Border Theory and Cosmopolitanism, specifically “border films” and contemporary cinematic cities, as well as the exploration of space and place in the cinema.
Julia González de Canales
Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna. She has just completed a research project focused on contemporary Hispanic poetic transnational films. Her new project examines transgender performativity and performative arts. Her research interests include Hispanic art-house contemporary films and gender performative artistic expressions.
Associate Professor of Film and World Literature at American University in Washington. One of his areas of research is film/video essay and his latest article written on this topic is “The Research and the Remix: Video Essays as Creative Criticism.” He is currently working on a monograph on transnational auteurism and the work of Alfonso Cuarón.
Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Oklahoma. She is interested in film geographies and her fieldwork has focused on how and why cultural activists work with academic advocates to create and circulate videos made by, with, and for Indigenous communities.
M.A. Spanish, University of Oklahoma. He is a professional translator, the managing editor of the literary journal Latin American Literature Today, and an actor. He performed as Nico in Oklahoma Mon Amour.
Associate Professor in the Film and Media Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma. She has taught film and media editing, has worked professionally in film and video production, and is the cinematographer, editor, and director of Oklahoma Mon Amour.
In the mid-nineties, while living in Mexico, the U.S. journalist, Leam Gaertner, and a British activist by the name of Fiona had two sons: Nico and Sebastián. Political threats prompted their relocation to Oklahoma, where they had a house in the small town of Ava. The couple’s incessant activism resulted in a tragedy that ruptured the family, triggering the film’s present-day events.
In late 2016, Nico, now 24, is once again living in Mexico. A restlessness consumes him. And his anxiety is justified because Sebastián –who was left in Oklahoma with the now bitter and cynical Leam– is traveling to Mexico by road, determined to put the pieces together once and for all.
Oklahoma Mon Amour portrays a ruptured family and the quest for its reunion, the journey of two brothers, the challenges faced by multicultural youth needing to find their true identity and to unveil buried secrets, all of this tinted by the puzzling closeness between Mexico and the U.S. Filmed in black and white and with a non-traditional structure evocative of an earlier cinema from the sixties and seventies, the film also interacts with current world tensions, and presents an unusual approach to the Mexico/U.S dynamics, also showing a cosmopolitan Mexico City seldom seen in cinema.
Various nationally and internationally recognized musicians, actresses/actors, writers, and translators worked in Oklahoma Mon Amour. Sebastian Efler, who composed and interpreted segments of the score, is the Timpani Principal at the National Orchestra of Taiwan; Geoffrey Burch, who also composed and interpreted segments of the score, is a recognized musician specialized in film score, Richard Ray Whitman (Lloyd in OMA) is a Norman well-known activist and actor, and George Henson, who did the English to Spanish translation for the subtitles, is the translator of the works of many Latin American renown writers. Other talent and production members are: local musician and artist Katie Williams, and local actor and activist David Slemmons. The film has received financial support from The College of International Studies, The College of Arts and Sciences, The Film and Media Studies Department, and the 2020 Arts and Humanities Forum.
Oklahoma Mon Amour was finished in October 2020. The film has been selected at seven international film festivals, and won the Best Female Cinematographer award at the Toronto International Women’s Film Festival and the Best Family Film award at the Silk Road Film Awards in the city of Cannes, France. Release date TBA.