Looking at the world through a camera's lens

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By Bethany Cairns
Thursday, November 11, 2010
When she was eight years old, Constanza Burucua first saw Cambridge during a family vacation to Europe. She knew she would return to England years later as a university student.
 
“My parents got us some ice cream and we sat by the river, and we watched these people rowing and then we entered one of the colleges,” she says from her new office in University College at The University of Western Ontario. “I thought, ‘I wouldn’t mind living like this, when I’m older.’”
 
 
 
That plan manifested for Burucua in 2000 when she went to the University of Warwick for her second master’s (her first was from the International University of Andalusia). She enjoyed the United Kingdom so much and wanted to stay longer, so she stayed for her PhD in film studies which she completed in 2005.
 
“I loved the U.K. I loved the city of London. I loved the English countryside. I loved the British people. I think that they are interesting people – eccentric people, intelligent. I find the U.K. a very stimulating place,” she says. “I think every time you go, you enjoy it differently.”
 
After she completed her PhD, Burucua moved to Venezuela in 2005 with then-boyfriend, now-husband, Juan Bello. The pair worked together on five documentary films. In 2009, Burucua published her first book, Confronting the ‘Dirty War’ in Argentine Cinema, 1983-1993.
 
Born and raised in Argentina, Burucua has cultivated experiences with different cultures. These experiences prepared her for her newest role as assistant professor in the film studies department at Western, where she teaches world cinema and documentary to undergraduate students. In 2009, while in Venezuela, Burucua noticed a job posting on Western’s website and she knew the role was for her.
 
“I thought, I’m really going to go for it and I’m going to do my best to get the job,” she says. “I desperately wanted the job.” Since she landed her new gig at Western, Burucua’s students have called her warm, vibrant and open-minded, says Ganga Rudraiah, who is a teaching assistant for Burucua’s course in world cinema.
 
“She is always looking to open up to new perspectives,” Rudraiah says. “I have been in other courses with a world cinema approach, but I’ve never been in anything like what she’s doing.”
 
Burucua’s classes consist of a three-hour film screening on one day, and then a lecture the next. During these lectures, she’ll often show examples that help her students participate with a nation’s culture, instead of merely observing, Rudraiah says. One recent example is a clip Burucua showed of a commercial from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in which he encourages citizens to use less water while bathing. These clips are Burucua’s way of engaging her students and facilitating discussion, something she has succeeded in, Rudraiah says.
 
“She’s not just of one opinion. She has many ideas and she encourages us to take part in them as well,” Rudraiah says. “I think she’s an asset to Western.”
 
Burucua hopes to build a career at Western. In 10 years, the 39-year-old would like to find herself in the same office surrounded by books, with “hopefully a few others published.”
 
She is currently working on the translation of her book into Spanish, as well as a few more documentary projects.
 
Still, there is no telling where her love for cinema will take her. If she weren’t teaching, she would like to work for a think tank of people who try to find out what audiences will like to be watching in five or 10 years time, or creating content for children, like the cartoons she watches with her two young daughters.
 
“I’m amazed at the quality,” she says. “It’s amazing what people are doing for children.”  
 
Fact Box

· Family: Burucua has two daughters, Clementina, 1, and Olivia, 3;
· Favourite films: Le Mépris, starring Brigitte Bardot, and Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman;
· Publication: Burucua’s book Confronting the ‘Dirty War’ in Argentine Cinema, 1983-1993 examines how Argentine cinema of 1983-1993 represented the previous dictatorship of 1976-1983.

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