Acclaimed Spanish Director Roberto Pérez Toledo Visits Bronx Science’s Spanish Film and Narrative Class Via Zoom

Roberto Pérez Toledo visited the Spanish Film and Narrative class to discuss his short films and his creative inspiration.

Perez+is+most+known+for+Seis+Puntos+Sobre+Emma%2C+which+premiered+in+New+York+City+in+2011.

Film Affinity

Perez is most known for “Seis Puntos Sobre Emma,” which premiered in New York City in 2011.

Roberto Pérez Toledo, a well-known Spanish filmmaker, paid a virtual Zoom visit to Bronx Science’s Spanish Film and Narrative class last month. Calling in from Lanzarote, Spain, he was invited by Señor Francisco Uceda, a Bronx Science Spanish teacher, to speak about his films and to answer students’ questions.

“I was very excited to hear that Roberto Pérez Toledo was visiting Bronx Science via Zoom. We had been watching his short films in class for the past two weeks, and I really enjoyed them. It was awesome to hear that we would get the opportunity to have a talk with him,” Andrew Edelmann ’22 said. 

Roberto Pérez Toledo grew up in Spain in the 1980s. At the age of three, he was diagnosed with congenital spinal atrophy, causing progressive muscle weakness.  When he was 14, Pérez Toledo’s condition worsened, and he had to begin using a wheelchair. This experience  would have a profound impact upon his future films. 

“What stood out the most to me of anything that Roberto Pérez Toledo said, was when he answered a question about his decision to cast two deaf actors for his short film, ‘Vuelco,’ which had a theme that didn’t require deaf actors to be cast, so it was out of choice – not necessity. He responded that he makes an effort to give a voice to marginalized and minority groups in his films, so he is happy to go out of his way to recruit deaf actors,” said Edelmann.

What separates Pérez Toledo from most filmmakers is that he makes a genuine effort to include marginalized and minority groups into his films. Many of his films focus on the theme of love and interpersonal relationships, which he extends beyond heteronormativity and the gender binary, by working to incorporate LGBTQ+ voices. One such film, ‘Before the Eruption,’ is about a group of Spanish teenagers learning to accept the gender transition of one of their close friends. 

In order to prepare for Pérez Toledo’s visit, Señor Uceda’s class watched all of his short films in the weeks before, and held class discussions on them. One of Pérez Toledo’s films that was especially popular with students, ‘Los Gritones,’ about a man and a woman screaming from a balcony, also went viral on YouTube, amassing a total of one million views. 

Unfortunately, Pérez Toledo resides in Spain and was therefore unable to visit the class in person (the current COVID-19 pandemic also limits in-person visits as well). He was set up on a projector and conducted an interview with the class over Zoom, instead. Pérez Toledo started off by giving a brief introduction about himself and his life, and then began taking questions from the students.

Bronx Science’s relationship with Pérez Toledo began in 2009, when he was screening his movie in New York City. Señora Pilar Olmedo, a Bronx Science Spanish teacher, approached him and asked him to visit Bronx Science.

“I was very excited to hear that Roberto Pérez Toledo was visiting Bronx Science via Zoom. We had been watching his short films in class for the past two weeks, and I really enjoyed them. It was awesome to hear that we would get the opportunity to have a talk with him,” Andrew Edelmann ’22 said. 

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