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Saint Mary’s hosts global cinema festival

| Tuesday, February 27, 2018

This week, Saint Mary’s will press play on the World Cinema Festival, where a new international film will play each night at 7 p.m. in Vander Vennet Theater. The event is free to the public.

On Monday night, the feature film will be Sweden’s “A Man Called Ove,” while Tuesday night will feature Japan’s “Sweet Bean.” Wednesday night’s film will be Mexico’s “Guten Tag, Ramon,” and the World Cinema Festival will conclude Thursday night with the Kenyan film “The First Grader.”

Mana Derakhshani, director of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL), said in an email that film festivals enable students to glean new perspectives about different cultures.

“Films open windows into other cultures,” she said. “They allow us for a brief moment to travel across oceans to get a glimpse of different perspectives. At the same time, they can enable us to see universal themes that concern all humanity. Both of these outcomes are an important part of a 21st century education. We live in an increasingly interconnected world, where success depends on our ability to empathize with those who are different from us and to work together in mutual understanding.”

Derakhshani said she initially brought the World Cinema Festival to Saint Mary’s because of her passion for languages, but she soon saw its importance to gender and social issues.

“​Saint Mary’s has offered a festival of films every year for over 15 years,” she said. “​I brought the event to Saint Mary’s first as a language professor but have continued it as part of the program the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership offers the campus and the larger community.”

Julie Storme, director of the College’s intercultural studies department, said in an email that Derakhshani was imperative to beginning the World Cinema Festival, as Derakhshani applied for a grant to sponsor a French film festival, which is what sparked what is now called the World Cinema Festival.

“More than a decade ago … [Derakhshani] applied for a grant through the French Cultural Services branch of the French embassy for a grant to sponsor a French film festival — it was known as La Tournée,” she said. “When she moved over to [the] Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership, she decided to continue the tradition as [the] World Cinema Festival.”

Derakhshani said Saint Mary’s World Cinema Festival is another way for students to develop a global awareness.

“​Internationalization has been an important initiative at Saint Mary’s for several years,” she said. “The World Cinema Festival is one way to bring more global awareness to students through programming.”

Derakhshani said films are selected because they feature women in prominent acting or directing roles and because they examine important social issues.

“We select films that have strong female leads, are directed by women or deal with important social issues,” she said. “We also look for films that have been award-winners.”

Derakhshani said she hopes students will find the movies entertaining but also enlightening.

I hope that students will be entertained, but mostly that they will gain appreciation for the cinematic arts outside of Hollywood-produced blockbusters,” she said.

Derakhshani said she feels international films often get slighted at major award shows like the Academy Awards.

​The Academy Awards only have one category for foreign films,” she said. “They cannot recognize all the wonderful films that are made in the world each year.”​

Derakhshani said international film festivals, such as the World Cinema Festival, can help students become more globally and socially aware.

“It all depends on your point of view regarding movies,” she said. “If it’s just a way to be entertained and escape real life for a couple of hours, Hollywood does that very well, but so do other countries. Being aware that there are good movies made in other countries is one way to be conscious of the world.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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