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.

Mystery, murder, and fun for all


Here’s the scoop from Westminster Round member Kyler Lacey (’15).

Last Friday the 13th of March was the Live Action Literary Clue event, put on by Westminster Round, for all to enjoy. Students across majors attended, demonstrating the importance of different areas of study in the field of murder-mystery investigating. Though in this case, the exact parameters of the crime were left unsolved.

Some of the clues proved difficult to find, and some were found quickly, but re-hidden too well to be discovered in only a few minutes by the next group—so, nobody’s cards were completely filled out. In the end, it was revealed that Beowolf did it, with the Pigs from Animal Farm, in 221 Baker Street. After just shy of an hour and a half, the perp and weapon of choice were found, but the room was left a mystery. The guesses were close, but nobody was able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and as it turned out, Beowolf may have had an alibi.

The rooms in Westminster were converted into deliberation chambers, a Chamber of Secrets, an arena, a Room of One’s Own, 221 Baker Street, and more of the like. Clues were scattered throughout, hidden under tables and rolled up in projector screens. The investigators left no chair unturned or drawer unopened, those that showed up were clearly professionals, seasoned experts.

After the game was done, and it was time to go, almost everyone stayed behind to help clean up. The teamwork during the event was great, but really showed itself afterwards when all of Westminster was put back into shape in less than 20 minutes. The players turned volunteer did a wonderful job picking up paper, rearranging desks, and erasing doodles on white boards.

Thank you to everyone who came, the evening was a blast!

Poetry and Pie 2014

As per usual, Westminster Round will be hosting Poetry and Pie again this year. The event will take place in the Mind and Hearth Coffee Shop on November 14th, at 7:00 p.m.

If you’re interested in contributing, here are the details:

Please email any work (roughly 2-4 pages/minutes in length) to Luke Eldredge ( by November 11th. We hope to have our lineup complete by the 13th, so don’t hesitate to send your stuff in!

For more information, email Luke Eldredge ( or Nick Avery (

May and All That It Brings

May 1 reading flier

As of today, there are 18 days until the end of finals week. To help energize you for the last three weeks, we have lots of activities coming your way.

Thursday, May 1

Writing Awards at 4 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. This year’s Writing Awards have a surprise in store for you. Check out the video featuring Annie Stillar and Ryan Stevens on The Whistle’s facebook page.

Writing in the Community Reading at 6 p.m. at Indaba Coffee (1425 W Broadway, downtown Spokane) as seen in poster above made by Rowanne Fairchild. Come out and support Nicole Sheets and her class EL 396: Writing in the Community Practicum.

All semester we have been working closely with different community groups from Mountainside Middle School to Cooper George. Join us for the chance to hear our workshop members read the materials they have been working on for the past eight weeks. And there will be cake!

Friday, May 2

Annual Westminster Round BBQ at 5 p.m. in the garden between Westminster and Lied. Celebrate the end of the semester with friends and burgers (and veggie burgers)!

Next week Friday, May 9

Westminster’s Annual Book Sale and the release of Laura’s List. The book sale will be from 11:30-1:00 in the garden between Westminster and Lied. Donations are still welcome. Contact Annie Stillar at or (509) 777-3253 to arrange a pick-up.

Upcoming Spring Semester Events


Spring semester is underway, which means it is time to check out the Westminster Round Spring Calendar (also found under Related Links).

As the snow continues to dump on us, here are some events to look forward to THIS week:

Don’t miss Bad Love Poetry on Friday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 pm in the Mind & Hearth. Make sure to bring your own poems to share!  And don’t forget about the BELIEF conference writing workshop earlier on Friday at 3:00 pm.

The Leonard Oakland Film Festival continues Saturday, Feb. 15 with showings of 20 Feet from Stardom at 7 pm and The Basket at 10 pm in the Robinson Teaching Theatre. More film showings to come Saturday, Feb. 22.

Also to come: Julia Kasdorf Reading, Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7 pm in the Hixson Union Building’s Multipurpose Room


Festivity-Packed Friday

This Whitworth Lifeemail (1)

Don’t miss This Whitworth Life put on by our very own Nicole Sheets and her EL 347 Creative Nonfiction Writing! This storytelling event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, in the HUB’s Multipurpose Room. 

Nine members from various facets of the Whitworth community, including the legendary Leonard Oakland, will read five to eight minute stories about a defining moment in their lives. Following each story, a panel of faculty members will provide commentary.

“My hope is that this storytelling event will add to Whitworth’s already robust sense of community,” Nicole Sheets says. “All of the storytellers have some connection to Whitworth; our cast represents students, faculty, facilities services, campus security, program assistants, administrators, coaches and trustees.”

Story readers will include:

  • Casey Armstrong, Whitworth custodian
  • Joel Diaz, senior sociology major and Whitworth security officer
  • Austin Foglesong, freshman English major
  • Mackenna Kuehl, senior English major
  • Leonard Oakland, Whitworth professor of English
  • Ken Roberts, member of the Whitworth Board of Trustees
  • Toby Schwarz, Whitworth professor of kinesiology and athletic coach
  • Annie Stillar, program assistant for Whitworth English department
  • Kathy Storm, associate provost for Whitworth faculty development

“Stories remind us that everyone’s a complex person, that we’re all storehouses of experience,” Nicole says. “Plus, stories are fun.”

The faculty panel will be comprised of Casey Andrews, Whitworth associate professor of English; Suzette McGonigal, Whitworth counselor; and Raja S. Tanas, Whitworth professor of sociology.

Then, head over to Westminster Round’s Christmas Party at 7 p.m., 10713 N. Nelson for food, conversation, holiday story-time, and a photo booth. Carpooling will be available in the HUB around 6:45, after This Whitworth Life. 

Lift Every Voice and Vote for Meredith Friesen (’14)


As an assignment for EL 331W Southern Renaissance, Meredith Friesen, senior English major and current Westminster Round president, submitted her recitation of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson to the 2013 Norton Anthology Student Recitation Contest.

Meredith’s submission has been chosen as one of the top three finalists! The public and the panel of Norton editors will decide the winner, which means she needs your votes to win.

Vote for Meredith here! Deadline for voting is Dec. 8th.

The winner will receive a $200 Barnes & Noble gift card and will have his or her name featured on the acknowledgements page of a Norton Anthology.

Image from here.

Looking Forward to November…


It is almost time to flip your calendars to November. And while you are at it, make sure to write down these upcoming events.

Kicking off the month, THIS Friday, Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Westminster Round invites you to their Harvest Party at 10713 N. Nelson (look for the jack-o-lanterns). Rides available in front of Westminster Hall at 5:15.

There will be marshmallows, a little bonfire, scary stories read by Vic Bobb, food, spiced cider and friends. Westminster Round encourages all English folk to come out for this.

Don’t Miss the Two English Endowed Readings!

Come see Melanie Rae Thon  on Thursday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. in the HUB Multipurpose Room.

Thon, Melanie Rae (Andi Olsen)[1]

Melanie Rae Thon’s most recent novels include, The Voice of the River and In This Light Now: Selected Stories. Her work has been included in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Anthologies and O. Henry Prize Stories.

And come back on Monday, Nov. 18th at 7 p.m. to the HUB Multipurpose Room to see Pádraig Ó Tuama.


Pádraig Ó Tuama is a Belfast-based Irish Poet, speaker, and conflict mediator, as well as the author of two  poetry collections—Readings from the Book of Exile and Sorry for Your Troubles—and an album of Christian lament called Hymns to Swear By.

Closing out the month is the wonderful combination of Poetry and Pie on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Mind & Hearth Coffee Shop.

Enjoy your November! And finish off October strong by going to the Elective Fest TOMORROW! (See previous post for details)

November image from here.

Westminster Round Presents Literary Live-Action Clue


by Ana Quiring ’14 (photos by Krystal Valle ’13)

One of the most striking attributes of English students, I think, is our ability to take any event, game, or object and turn it into a literary artifact. Christmas party? Dickens reading party. End of the year bake sale? Used book bake sale. Movie night? Dead Poet Society night. And these are just Westminster Round events. The possibilities for overzealous TV show analysis, real-life symbolism (watch out, Whitworth Campanile), and relating pop songs to classic literature are nearly endless. We’re an industrious and sometimes single-mindedly nerdy bunch.


We at Westminster Round, your English department club, decided to continue the trend with our April event, which we dubbed “Literary Live-Action Clue,” which is exactly what it sounds like. On Friday, April 19, we turned a set of classrooms in Westminster Hall into the backdrop for a sinister and nerdy murder.


Instead of Miss Scarlet with the candlestick in the conservatory, we followed our primitive English-geek instincts and chose literary rooms, suspects, and weapons. Narnia’s Wardrobe and the Room of Requirement looked especially sinister; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern and Sherlock & Watson were under suspicion; and tuberculosis and the Norton Shakespeare Anthology were just a few of the possible weapons. Edgar Allen Poe, fallen prey to mysterious circumstances, was our victim (mostly so I could model for the tape outline on the floor, complete with mustache, and shout “Poe is no moe!” at random intervals).


While these categories didn’t affect the procedure of the actual game (which involved searching for clues that Caroline Swinford and I hid with delighted malice in increasingly difficult hiding places) they certainly made it more fun. Caroline and I stood with Professor Fred Johnson before the start of the game, the solution envelope in hand and the possible murders spread out on their custom cards. “Well, Fred?” I asked. “Who should we pick for our murderer?”


He hesitated over Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald before settling on the portrait of the ominously straight-faced Bronte sisters. “If anybody was going to lose it and kill somebody,” he concluded with obvious amusement, “It would certainly be them.”


So the Brontes it was. When English majors, minors, and unwilling accomplices alike arrived, the Bronte team had the perhaps more fun job of finding our clues and re-hiding them in other places. When we reconvened for our murder mystery-style accusatory reveal, Lennie and George from Of Mice and Men correctly identified the murderers, as well as the weapon, the Thorns of Life from that Shelley poem we love to mock, and the scene of the crime, King Arthur’s Court (perhaps better known as Westminster 246).

But who were the real winners? Lennie and George, who went home with the promise of free books from the upcoming hot dog and book sale (May 10)? The Brontes, who laughed maniacally as they mislead the other teams? Or Caroline and I, who ran rampant through the building, switching off lights, turning up portentous mood music, and tucking Clue cards into the ceiling tiles? Well, who’s to say. But I think it’s safe to conclude, a good time was had by all.

Ana Quiring is an English major, probably for life. The only thing she likes better than Virginia Woolf is talking about Virginia Woolf with other English majors. Also, popcorn is pretty good.