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Thursday, February 13, 2014 (read 1174 times)

Spanish Movies Awards Pay Tribute to the Work of Teachers

by Lauris

Living is easy with eyes closed

Spanish film’s 2014 Goya awards took place this week and I loved one winner in particular because it touched a soft spot in my heart: the award for best feature length film went to Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados (Living is easy with eyes closed), a tribute to a real person named Juan Carrión, an English teacher who used pop music back in the 70’s (the Beatles in particular) to teach English to his students.

I love using songs, movies, and any other audiovisual material I can use in my classes. I felt great gratitude for the homage that this wonderful film pays to the efforts made by a teacher to do his job as well as possible. I like making use of attractive sounding pop melodies for listening exercises. It’s a great way to build motivation among students and give them relevant listening practice and it can be satisfying for teachers.

The movie version of Juan Carrión (the film by the way takes its name from a line from the Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever) is named Antonio, and I must say that Javier Cámara, who won a much deserved Goya award for best actor in a leading role with the performance, just nails the part.   

It’s ironic that this film, which was not very successful when it opened on October 31st (it will likely be re-released now in many more theatres), has clenched the most important Goya awards: best film, best director, best actor in a leading role, best new actress, best original screen play, and best original sound track. The music composed by the great Pat Metheny is simply perfect.

Back before the internet was so widely used (I’m pretty old and I still remember the days before the internet, when we had to get by on our own coming up with ways to prepare original material for the classroom), the jackets that records and early CDs came in provided invaluable help whenever we wanted to do music activities (just try transcribing the lyrics to a song by Shakira or Joaquín Sabina, or anyone else and you’ll see right away how hard it is).

Well it seems that Juan went out in search of John Lennon, who was filming a movie in Almería at the time, to ask for help correcting the transcriptions that he’d made of the Beatles songs he used for class. He also wanted to personally request that the Beatles include a text version of the lyrics in their next album. His request was granted: the text for all their songs were included beginning with the Beatle’s album Sergeant Pepper, something that seems completely natural to us today.

I strongly recommend this movie, full of tenderness and masterfully crafted visions of the 70’s. The movie also offers us the inspirational example of fellow teacher don Juan Carrión (the use of don here is more than justified by respect and admiration), who strives to achieve something that we’re all looking for: excellence.

Knowing that don Juan continues teaching at 90 some years of age makes me value the importance of motivation, professionalism, and the joy of doing a job well.

The newspaper El País published an article about this special person eight years ago which I recommend reading:

Keywords: spanish movies,movie awards,movies in spanish,living is easy with eyes closed,film awards


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