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Film festival to address issues facing LGBT community

| Monday, October 2, 2017

This coming week, Student Government, in partnership with multiple academic departments, will press play on the GlobaLGBTQ+ Film Festival, a foreign film festival showcasing the LGBT community and issues around the world. Sophomore Anne Jarrett, Title IX commissioner for the Student Government policy department and one of the students leading the effort to host the festival, said the festival comes as part of the current Student Government administration’s push for inclusivity on campus, especially among the LGBT community.

“We figured that a really good way to highlight some of those issues was to start conversation and introduce some of these issues to our campus would be through this sort of film festival,” Jarrett said.

The festival includes a screening of “Angels in America,” a two-part American play about the AIDS crisis of the 1980s directed by British director Marianne Elliott; “Chavela,” a documentary about Mexican singer Chavela Vargas that deals with gender issues; “The Wound,” a documentary about a South African ritual of circumcision that displays the relationship between masculinity and male homosexuality; “Inside the Chinese Closet,” a documentary about “lavender marriages” in China, in which a lesbian woman marries a gay man; and finally, “XXY,” a film about a person born with both male and female sexual organs that explores intersexuality, or when a person does not fit within the gender binary. Jarrett said the festival seeks to present these issues from an academic standpoint.

“While we do want to show good films, it was also important for us to introduce people to other cultures and how the LGBTQ community is seen and issues are dealt with in those cultures,” Jarrett said.

The students leading the effort include sophomore Isabel Rooper, director of the Gender Relations Committee, junior James Zwierzynski, one of Rooper’s committee members, and Jarrett. Jarret said all the films were chosen with the assistance of Ricky Herbst, the cinema program director at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. 

“Not only are we rebranding it to make sure that it’s more academic, but also not just focused on America,” Jarrett said. “It’s not done to stir the pot or be provocative. Rather, we are a research institution, we care about finding truth and finding out important things about issues around the world.”

The films on Friday and Saturday will be separated by panel discussions led by Notre Dame faculty and students. The discussions, Jarrett said, will focus on gender relations on campus, the films’ messages and opinions on how those messages were conveyed.

“We wanted to bring a new life into something. … It will be people who have seen the film for the first time there, so it will be a very free-flowing and interesting discussion,” Jarrett said.

The festival has the sponsorship of multiple academic departments, including the departments of anthropology, philosophy, FTT, psychology and the departments of gender studies at Indiana University-South Bend, Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame. The support of academic departments, Jarrett said, was vital to the festival’s mission.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support already from the academic community at Notre Dame, which was really important to us because we don’t want this to be controversial,” Jarrett said. “We’re doing this because these are important, interesting films, and we want people to see them.”

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