HAMMOND | I am Mexican-American.

I am part of a rich culture with a unique and fascinating history; a history that I have an opportunity to learn more about, thanks to the photography exhibit “Transatlantic Encounters, In the Shadow of Cortés” at the Purdue University Calumet Library and a film, “La Otra Conquista,” to be shown on April 26 at the Towle Theatre in Hammond, IN, in coordination with it.

Kathleen Myers, a professor of Hispanic studies at Indiana University, along with photographer Steve Raymer, created this one-of-a-kind exhibit by traveling along the route of Cortés’ conquest of Mexico and sharing what they found. Initially displayed at the Newberry Library in Chicago, the exhibit is being showcased at Purdue Calumet for a limited time. It depicts the land and life along the route through interviews, art, and of course, photographs. These artifacts capture the essence of Mexican life and demonstrate how the country’s past influences its present. The exhibit will be at the PUC Library through April 30th.

But the experience doesn’t end there. Purdue Calumet is partnering for the first time with the Towle Theater in Hammond to show the film, La Otra Conquista (The Other Conquest), a powerful examination of the struggles of the Aztec people during the time Spanish conquistador Cortés conquered their land. This film explores how this clash of cultures affected the human spirit on both sides as well as how it the transformed the Mexican culture and religion. Set in the early 1500’s, the film stars Damián Delgado as Topiltzin, a strong-willed Aztec trying to hold on to his beliefs while being forced to convert to Catholicism. The film also tells the tale of Friar Diego who struggles with justifying Cortes’ slaughter of the Aztec people in the name of the Christ.

This period in Mexican history was a pivotal turning point and essentially the beginning of the culture as it is today. According to PUC foreign languages professor Steve Lombardo, “[The film] is really discussing Mexican identity.”

As a Mexican-American, knowing where I came from is as important as knowing where I am going. This extraordinary film sheds light on the formation of a heritage I can be proud of.

The film’s initial release in Mexico in 1999 broke box-office records with one of the biggest opening weekends in history for a Mexican film. The following year when it was released in Los Angeles it was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the “Top 10 Films of 2000.”

La Otra Conquista will be shown at the Towle Theatre on Friday, April 26th for the first public viewing in the Midwest. The program will begin at 5 pm with hors d’oevres and drinks, followed by a welcome from PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon. In honor of the Midwest premiere, Director Salvador Carrasco will be at the Towle Theatre to introduce his film. Author of the photography exhibit Kathleen Myers will also speak. The film which runs 105 minutes and is in Spanish with English is expected to begin at 6:30 pm.

The program is free and open to the public.

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Damian is a journalist/photojournalist who is passionate about his work and enthusiastic about life. He has a deep love for his faith, family and engaging inspiring people to share their story.