Worldwide Culture Comes to ND Cinema
Maria Smith | Monday, January 26, 2004
The films in the Race and Culture film series opening this week, and the Women in European Film series continuing from last semester, weren’t box office hits, didn’t win MTV movie awards and didn’t get their stars on the cover of “People”.Like many of the most insightful and best-directed movies from any year, some of them never even made it to Movies 14 on Edison. But thanks to ND Cinema, students live in places besides L.A. or New York have a chance to see these critically acclaimed films.
Women in European FilmWhen the Nanovic Institute for European Studies organized this year’s European film exhibition, they decided to focus not just on films by women, but on films about women and issues they have faced. The Institute will sponsor one film every month for the rest of the semester.Professor Daniel Mattern was one member of the committee responsible for deciding the theme and choosing the films.”We hoped to get a little more precise at some point,” said. “But we were dealing with so many different countries, we just decided to choose seven films.”The films scheduled for this semester are far from optimistic and deal with issues like sexual abuse and prostitution. In order to help students understand the issues involved in the films, guest speakers will introduce the films and lead discussion afterward.”One thing we’re trying to do is to bring someone who can talk about a film, bring a context to it,” Mattern said. “Sometimes it’s hard to think about an issue while you’re watching, but you can usually get more out of a film.””Chaos,” scheduled for this Thursday, tells the story of a woman who becomes involved in the life of an Algerian prostitute after she sees her being sexually abused in an alley by men who turn out to be her pimps.”It describes the way that two people find each other through crimes by men,” Mattern said. “It’s kind of a drama and a comedy – I’d call it a dramedy.”Algerian playwright Alek Baylee Toumi will introduce the film. Toumi teaches film, culture studies, and francophone literatures at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. An Algerian refugee who has not been able to return home for ten years, Toumi will offer unique insight into the issues involved in the film.In early February, the Institute will show the controversial Irish film “The Magdalene Sisters” by Scottish director Peter Mullan, who is also known for his 1996 film “Trainspotting.” “The Magdalene Sisters” prompted apologies from the Catholic Church for the poor treatment of hundreds of women who were forced to work under inhumane conditions in the Magdalene laundries in Ireland. “Respiro,” an Italian film released last year, tells the story of a young mother living on an island called Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily. Her free-spirited attitude provokes the suspicions of her fellow villagers, and eventually even of her husband.”Lilja 4-ever” is perhaps the darkest of the four films. Lilja, a young girl living in Soviet Russia, is abandoned by her mother, and ends up drifting around the tenements of the city. Eventually she makes her way to Sweden, where she finds herself forced into prostitution.”It shows her decline in living situation and in life,” Mattern said.The Nanovic Institute plans to bring a European Union representative to campus to introduce the film. The Institute also hopes to organize a workshop on women trafficking in conjunction with the visit to help students learn what they can do about an increasingly important issue.”I’m glad someone is coming to give this some context,” Mattern said. “It will be good to have someone here to tell us what we can do about this.”
Race and CultureThe Progressive Faculty and Staff Alliance, a new group started only last semester, created the Race and Culture film series. The Alliance is divided into subcommittees for different issues, and the series was a special project of the race issues section.”We wanted to get together and do some things on campus,” race issues committee member David Hachen said. “The series was our way of addressing some issues.”After the films the group will provide pizza, and a few students and faculty members will be asked to present a few questions about the film for anyone who wants to stay, eat and discuss.”It’s meant to be short,” Hachen said. “They’ve been asked to talk for only one or two minutes.”The first film will be John Sales’ “Lone Star,” a film which deal with border issues in Southern Texas through the legend of Sheriff Buddy Deeds, who is supposed to have saved the town from corruption. When a 40-year-old murder is discovered, it drags up a net of other issues as well.On Feb. 24, the group is bringing in director Paul Kell for the Midwest premier of his hip-hop documentary”5 Sides of a Coin.” The documentary explores the five major elements of hip-hop, including graffiti and brake dancing. Kell interviews some of the most respected hip-hop figures about the history of a genre that is having an increasingly large impact on many levels of American society.”This is going to be really exciting,” Hachen said. “We’re trying to bring in people from the community as well as students.””Rabbit-Proof Fence,” showing on March 23, briefly came to Movies 16 in South Bend after it came out ,but was never shown at most movie theatres. The Australian film follows the journey of three Aboriginal girls across the outback. The girls are part of the stolen generation, when large group of Aboriginal children were taken from their parents and resettled in government camps during the early 1900s.”Smoke Signals,” the last film in the series, is a comedy about two Native American boys. Victor’s father saves Thomas from a fire that kills both his parents. As the boys grow up they turn out to be complete opposites. The film is set on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho.
(Italics) All the films will be shown in the Carrey Auditorium in Hesburgh Library. Admission is free and open to all students.