Get to Know Anaïs Ornelas
Anaïs Ornelas is one of three visiting scholars associated with the COMEXUS: Becas Fulbright-García Robles organization. She will be teaching courses in FiTV this year.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Aug 25, 2022
1. Much of your academic work has focused on the intersection of gender and visual culture. What would you say is similar in U.S. culture and Mexican culture concerning narratives around gender in film and television? What is different?
The US has a much larger Film industry than Mexico, with many amazing female directors striving to allow other voices and perspectives to be featured. Representation has taken center place in discussions surrounding Film and TV on this side of the border and these issues have been explored in many interesting ways. In Mexico, the male gaze is still mostly hegemonic, and the industry is very much male-dominated. Independent film remains a very elitist product, catering mostly to the taste of important European festivals such as Cannes. Hopefully, this will change in the next few decades, the directors I mentioned are some of the names trying to make a difference.
TV is a completely different story. For decades, Telenovelas (soap operas) had dominated the market and became a profitable cultural landmark of the country. Although telenovela has been criticized for its outlandish plots and its stereotypical characterization, I believe the reason it has such a bad reputation is that it features mostly female characters, and topics considered “feminine” such as marriage, love, and domesticity; but behind these intrigues, telenovela speaks to us about class, race, gender in ways sometimes more subtle than Mexican film can. If you’re interested check out telenovelas like "La Niña" or "Betty la Fea" on Netflix.
Due to the context of violence and corruption, feminism in Mexico is very much concerned with solidarity, care, and resilience in communities. I think a certain brand of corporate, girl-bossy feminism could learn a lot from Mexican and Latin American feminist thinkers.
3. If one were unfamiliar with Mexican literature, which works would you suggest they start reading?
One of my favorite Mexican authors was recently translated, her name is Ámparo Dávila and she writes the most uncanny, beautiful short stories. I believe you can buy The Houseguest and Other Stories in the States. I also want to recommend my favorite novel from last year, the author is Argentinian, and she was recently translated into English: Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez, a heart-wrenching, epic story about a father, a son, and a demonic spirit.4. What is something that is happening in Mexican film & television right now that you find particularly interesting?
I believe platforms have really upped the game in Mexican TV, leading to the proliferation of hybrid productions that still feel a lot like telenovelas but are shorter and have more financial means, almost like a TV series. Interesting ones you can check out are “La Casa de las Flores” and “Always a Witch” (from Colombia) on Netflix.5. Can you tell us about the courses you will be teaching at CU Denver?
I will be teaching a course on Violence and Gender in Mexican Film where we will be watching stories of drug trafficking and how they affect the dynamic between female and male characters. I will also be teaching Contemporary World Cinema, a class that hopefully will give students a better understanding of cinema all around the globe and particularly in Latin America.