LAO Film Festival 2017: A Visit with Dr. Alexandra Hildago

By: Emily Hanson

Three things that you need to know about Alexandra Hildago:

#1: She speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and French. She used to speak a little bit of Russian too.

#2: She publishes an online publication that she co-founded, Agnés Films, which supports women’s work with reviews, interviews, narratives and essays.

#3: She identifies as a feminist.

All this goes to say is that Dr. Hildago is an amazing woman with an intriguing life. I was able to talk to her before the showing of her film, Vanishing Borders, was shown at the LAO Film Festival, and the conversation I had with her was enlightening to me as a writer, and as a person who is part of American society.

The conversation with Dr. Hildago started on a Google Docs. I was looking forward to seeing her think as she typed on a shared document. There is something about a thought process that can never be replicated because it is an experience different to each individual. The questions I asked her, concerned her movie, her experiences during the movie, and about feminism. The film was made after her own experience of emigrating from Venezuela when she was 16 years old. Vanishing Borders features four women from different backgrounds in order to “[provide] a more holistic account of what immigration looks like for women from around the globe” commented Dr. Hildago. The misrepresentation of immigrant women concerned Dr. Hildgao, causing her to make the film. The film was made to “humanize immigrants” and as Dr. Hildago had shown Vanishing Borders for three years, the film is doing what it was made to do. While on the topic of the film’s purpose, she commented, “I hope it reminds those watch it that immigrants are not abstract threats but complex humans who often bring richness and nuance to the country that hosts them.” In a world where “immigrant” holds a bad connotation, the reminder that immigrants offer more diversity to the country they come to carries an important message, as Dr. Hildago said.

Dr. Hildago’s lecture on campus the night that I interviewed her was just as interesting as speaking with her that morning. While not many of the same topics from our conversation came up, it was clear to me that her life is lived through film and stories. In coordination with family across the globe and at home, she made a film Desaparacido about the disappearance of her father while in the Amazon. The lecture was about the making of the film and the making of memoirs in general. Creating a memoir using Cultural Rhetoric and utilizing the culture to create something as a community was at the forefront of the lecture. “Creating Together” was at the center during the making of the documentary Desaparacido. Dr. Hildago talked to family and friends and anybody who knew her father in order create a documentary that showed many different aspects of her life. What was interesting to me during the lecture was that in the making of Desaparacido, there was a time when things were not turning out like she had planned and the film was a danger of digging into her father’s life.

Alexandra Hildago’s visit to campus was a learning experience for everybody involved. Vanishing Borders and her lecture about memoirs offered new insights to subjects both new and old. The experiences that Dr. Hildago shared and the lessons she taught are ones that are invaluable to those who were present or for those who watch her films.

Emily Hanson is one of our freshman writers and is a lively addition to the team.

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