Meet the Jury - Leland L’Hote

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In this Meet the Jury feature, we introduce you to Leland L’Hote—the newest addition to our Study Abroad Film Festival jury, and our first juror from our Chicago office. Read on to learn more about Lee and the experience he brings to the table as a former Film Studies professor!

Leland J. L’Hote, Ph.D.

Program Dean for Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Quito & Galapagos Islands, Santiago
IES Abroad Chicago

IES Abroad: Which of your film-related accomplishments do you feel the most proud of? Can you share with us information about this accomplishment?

Leland L'Hote: As a former Film Studies professor, I would say that my greatest accomplishments would be teaching a generation of students how to read film critically and to appreciate international films that otherwise they may never have viewed without taking a film class. 

Although I taught several courses on Hispanic and European film, my two favorite creations were a survey on Cuban cinema and a Senior Seminar on the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Students always seemed surprised by the subversive nature of some Cuban films. And Almodovar is, well, Almodovar; his best films are among the most creative and touching that one can find. 

IES Abroad: What are some of your most memorable study abroad experiences? 

LL: I spent a year studying at the University of Salamanca, Spain. One of its former presidents in the early 20th Century, Miguel de Unamuno, also is one of Spain’s most famous writers. As part of our study abroad orientation we spent a long weekend near the Portuguese border where one of his most famous novels takes place. It was a great bonding experience as we read the novel together while connecting firsthand to some of the most important landmarks of the book.

Another important memory I have relates to film. I was spending the summer conducting graduate research in Madrid the year that Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom was released. The film centers upon the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, so one of the main cultural centers in Madrid organized a series of events with the director and actors, but also with former soldiers from the losing side. In addition to meeting the director, I found it as amazing to hear the soldiers’ stories firsthand. The divisions were still raw and still there sixty years later. Because of my interests, one of the former soldiers later took me to visit one of the former battlefields, now just a park with very few signs of its historical significance. He relived a highly emotional experience with me and taught me history from his perspective like no book ever could.

IES Abroad: What advice would you give to young filmmakers today?

LL: As a film studies specialist, I would have to say that they should watch as many films as they can--the classics and not-so-classics--but at the same time they should simply set out to be their own style of filmmaker.

IES Abroad: What is your favorite documentary? And why?

LL: Luis Buñuel’s Land Without Bread (1933). I loved to use this film to teach students how to read a documentary with a critical eye in recognizing biases and manipulations. It also is one of Buñuel’s surrealist masterpieces, and some still question whether it should be classified as a documentary. The film focuses upon the extreme poverty of a very isolated region of Europe, but there are sections of absurd dark humor that leave the spectator with a very complex experience.

IES Abroad: How would you condense the spirit of study abroad into one word?

LL: Transformative.

Visit our Film Festival Jury page to read additional bios and interviews.

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