Annual Spanish Horror Film Festival Ended Early due to Mental Health Concerns


Trevor Moore

The AP Spanish film festival "Cortos de Terror" is held in the fall of every year to celebrate the day of the dead.

On Thursday, November 7th, the annual AP Spanish horror film festival “Cortos de Terror” ended early due to counselor and administration concerns over the effect certain scenes may have on the student body’s mental health.

The specific scene cited for the shutdown occurred in the second film, Oculus, in which a character is forced to engage in an act of self-harm. “The counselors [have] had an influx of of suicidal type situations, self harm type situations, and generally emotionally unstable situation,” said Mrs. Menkin, an administration involved with the decision to end the showing early. “[The counselors] felt that since students weren’t aware that this was going to be seen, that this was going to be potentially harmful to the kids.”

After administrators and counselors discussed the matter, Dr. Jones (who was not on campus at the time) was contacted. “[Dr. Jones] said that if the counselors feel that this is potentially harmful, and the admin thinks this is potentially harmful, then please stop it,” continues Mrs. Menkin, who then confirmed with Mr. Brown that there would be similar scenes to that in Oculus in the remaining few movies.

Mr. Brown later went on to inform Mrs. Menkin that the scene in question was added after he had reviewed the films.

“First of all we were surprised because we were like ‘oh what’s going on’,” said Kelly McNeil, whose film was scheduled for after the shutdown occurred. “Our whole group was disappointed because it was so abrupt when we stopped; it was right in the middle of a video.”

The month-long project is a yearly tradition for the AP Spanish class. Each group is given a certain theme topic, McNeil’s group being personal identity, and are asked to write, film, and edit horror films on the subject. “We based our movie off of a girl with split personalities and how that affected her and her friends,” continues McNeil. “It was shown through a sleepover, and it was shown through the night how her split personality ended up killing her friends.”

McNeil cited that a large amount of the disappointment comes from how much time her group, which included Macey Colson, Anna Brown, Juin Stable, and Isabel Morgan, had put into their film. “It took us five hours to film… and to edit I’d say it took two to three hours,” said McNeil, who went on to clarify that this was in addition to the time spent working on a script and memorizing lines. Completion of the project is seen as a celebration, members of the AP Spanish class dressing formally for pictures on the ‘red carpet’ prior to and after the showing.

This work has not gone unnoticed by administration, however. “The presentation and the fact that these kids filmed this was phenomenal,” said Mrs. Menkin, “I mean their work was superior to none.”

Both Mrs. Menkin and McNeil are confident that the unseen films from this year could still be presented in some way. “I asked Mr. Brown if I could come in and actually talk with his AP class…  about how they could still possibly present their videos, so that they can still get their hard work out there to be seen,” said Mrs. Menkin.

McNeil said that she would be willing to show her video to anyone who was interested.

Moving past the events of this year, Mrs. Menkin said that she would like for Cortos de Terror to continue, but that there should be disclaimers before the films to make sure students are not gaining suggestive self-harm ideas from them. “Social and emotional [problems] are such a focus in our society right now, and so many people are dealing with it,” explained Menkin. “Maybe next time we should put a disclaimer… so that people have a choice.”