“We want the Cátedra de Cine to be a forum for reflection and creation”, says Professor Diana Díaz

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Professor Diana Díaz (Oviedo, 1983) is the new director of the Cinema Chair at the University of Oviedo, which is based in Avilés. Díaz works as a PhD Assistant in the Department of Art History and Musicology at the Oviedo Higher School. For more than a dozen years she was a contributor to LA NUEVA ESPAÑA, a music critic for the Avilesian edition mostly, although not only. She talks to this newspaper at the Avilés University Services Center while snow falls on Ferrería street.

How did you find out about the appointment?

–The truth is that I was very excited that they counted on me for something like this and the truth is that I am very grateful for the trust that the Rectorate, the Vice Rectorate for University Extension and the Avilés City Council have placed in me.

-I was out.

-Clear. Permission to stay for research outside of Spain: first at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, and then at the University of Covilha, at the University of Beira Interior. There is the Labcom, a laboratory where people from Art and Communication work. It is a very interesting research center for audiovisual and documentary film matters, which is what I am doing now. That call coincided with a very interesting moment for me too. The truth is that I was very excited. And I appreciate that trust.

–It was the vice-chancellor of University Extension who called you. Is not that?

-Yes Yes of course. Clear. The first contacts were precisely at that time: when I was in Portugal.

-With whom I speak?

-With all parties. With the Avilés City Council, with the University of Oviedo, with José Ángel Lázaro who, as you know, is the deputy director of the Chair. Until after last year’s holidays, with the start of the course, the appointment did not become effective. More than cash: active.

–You are a musicology teacher. Your relationship with cinema as a subject of study, where does it come from?

–I am specializing in Spanish music of the 20th century and in different formats: also that which is made for the cinema. I started with a doctoral thesis that continues to bear fruit –soon I am going to publish a new score by Manuel Manrique de Lara–. I am also going to participate in a thesis on the reception of Puccini in Madrid.

-That is, it is a lot that interests you.

-Clear. I have gotten into different lines of research, but they all have to do with Spanish music. A few years ago, also, I got involved with the composers of soundtracks. The first, in fact, around the figure of the composer Antonio Pérez Olea, that of “La tía Tula” or “Fata Morgana”. Pérez Olea opened the way for me to music in documentaries. But I am also interested in music in the cinema with children during the Franco regime.

– “The little nightingale”?

For example, for example. The figure of the child, of childhood, also interests me a lot, because I am also in Music Education, so I try to cultivate these lines of research as well.

–In other words, that cinema is not only cinema.

-That’s right: it’s a combination of many arts. Our interest also covers different creative and artistic fields that cinema encompasses. This is very important.

–When she returns and is already a director, what does she do?

–What I was saying: start making contact with everyone who has to do with the Chair. The first thing was to close 2022, which was important. And now we are putting together 2023.

–And what can you tell me?

–Last November and December we did two very interesting things: we presented the film “Los Tarantos” within the acts of the last Black Night of the Cultural Factory. The introduction was made by a doctor from the University of Oviedo, Ana Rodrigo de la Casa. She is specialized in music and dance based on the work of Antonio Gades, who appears in the film. Then, in November, José Ángel Lázaro moderated the cycle we did around film praxis. We will continue developing these types of activities this year 2023. At the Cinema Chair we are very interested in creative processes: we want to go beyond the product. We believe that it is not understood without delving into how it has been done. That is why we are going to continue promoting meetings between creators and academics.

–Beyond the university extension.

–Yes, not necessarily within the format of an Extension course, although we will also take them into account, of course. We work so that the Chair of Cinema is a forum for reflection and artistic creation. We also want to serve as a meeting point for academics, researchers and creators, interested professionals as well. This we value.

–What do you suppose that the Chair of Cinema is in Avilés?

–This way we can contribute activities of interest in this line that I am telling you about and open our collaboration with other institutions and entities, which is something that interests us a lot. We have already started to do this. For example, we did the cinematographic praxis seminar in collaboration with the Asturias Film Academy. We will continue to do things with them. Another of the institutions with which we are going to collaborate is the Conservatory. We also want to collaborate or strengthen the collaboration with Avilés Acción Film and with the Gijón Festival.

-That is, they have worked.

-Yes Yes. There is work: we have the lines perfectly described, but we are putting together the entire calendar.

–This year the City Council has increased the budget.

–We closed 2022 with 20,000 euros. This year we have renewed the budget and that will allow us to continue with the film praxis seminars. I would like to appreciate the work carried out by the previous director of the chair, Magdalena Cueto, and very especially, that of José Ángel Lázaro, who remained in the spotlight by expanding his functions after Cueto’s resignation. Lázaro has been fundamental and continues to be so. Within these previous activities, it seems fundamental to us to maintain these visits to Avilés by figures of Spanish cinema. We are going to have at least two visits that are half confirmed. The idea is to deepen with specific conversations with acting and directing professionals to achieve this goal of knowledge of the different professions of cinema. Thinking about this, about resuming the activity that the Chair had started, we return to Gil Parrondo. We are talking with his family to offer a cycle or a specific classroom where the focus is his life and his work: what does artistic direction mean? We want the Oscar winner Gil Parrondo to be the protagonist and focus.

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