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‘Black Lives Matter in Cinema’ film festival to discuss racial justice, promote learning throughout Saint Mary’s community

| Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Over the summer, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted in response to the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed while in police custody in Minnesota. In order to continue the conversation surrounding racial justice, the Saint Mary’s College Student Diversity Board and department of gender and women’s studies will host a Black Lives Matter in Cinema film festival. The five-part film series will begin Aug. 20 at 6 p.m.

Courtesy of SMC OSI
The Black Lives Matter in Cinema film festival will feature five films and will run from Aug. 20 to Oct. 15.

Jamie Wagman, chair of the gender and women’s studies department and event coordinator, explained how the festival will be conducted online.

The film series is 100% virtual through Zoom, and a faculty-student duo will offer comments after each film,” Wagman said. “President Katie Conboy will be introducing the series this Thursday evening. Zoom links will be shared through the Saint Mary’s portal and via email before each film.

Wagman also discussed the decision to screen the films virtually, citing safety concerns.

During the pandemic, it is hard for us to gather in a safe way to discuss and screen films, so a virtual film series seemed a good fit, Wagman said.

Wagman hopes students will find the film series informative and learn about how the past connects to current events surrounding racism.

Our film series teaches viewers about systemic racism, racial exploitation and Civil Rights heroes,” Wagman said. “This film series is just one of so many steps we can take in facing the past and connecting the past to the present.

Senior Student Diversity Board president Carina Garza described the process of selecting films to screen that were relevant to students in the midst of current events.

[Wagman] chose movies that specifically tie into Black history, as well as with everything that’s happening,” Garza said. “She really wanted to get different perspectives for each movie.

Garza also provided an overview of the first film the festival will feature — “I Am Not Your Negro.”

[‘I Am Not Your Negro’] is a masterpiece,” Garza said. “It goes over three specific leaders — Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers … James Baldwin met all three of these people, and he knew them before they died. It’s kind of his story of meeting them.

Garza said she hopes students will engage in the festival, recognize their privilege and gain an understanding of the importance of current events.

I’m not saying that [privilege] is something bad to have, but something that you can use to help the Black and other POC communities, especially on campus because there’s not a huge community because we are a predominantly white institution,” Garza said. “And we also just wanted people to understand what happened, what’s happening [and] why it’s happening now.

Garza emphasized that the film festival will be a chance for students to educate themselves on the implications of racism in today’s society.

I think it’s really a time for education, and I believe this year our school theme is learning — so, that’s our goal,” Garza said. “We want to educate people and we want them to use their privilege for good.

Garza said she wants students to gain empathy toward communities of color, even if they are not directly affected by racism.

I just think it’s really important for our community to know that this is something that’s affecting people,” Garza said.  “Just because it’s not affecting you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a part of it. And just learning in general like that gives you an understanding, and I think people just kind of need an understanding about it.

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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a junior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature and secondary education with minors in theatre and creative writing. She currently serves as Saint Mary's News Editor.

Contact Genevieve