St. Francis in the Foothills church has been hosting an “Unlearning racism” monthly film series on Sunday nights for a number of years, and here’s the latest schedule for 2011.
Sunday Night at the Movies begins with a pot luck dinner at 5 p.m. in the Center at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church, 4625 E. River Road (NW corner of Swan Rd.) A discussion usually follows the film. Some films are available for check out – contact Elizabeth Fimbres at ElizFimbres@msn.com for information.
My husband and I have attended several of these films in the past and they are all provocative, with spirited, challenging discussions afterward. Of these 2011 films, I’ve seen “9500 Liberty”, “Atanarjurat the Fast Runner”, and “Lives of Others”, all thought-provoking movies.
Read the film descriptions below and mark your calendar for the ones you may wish to see.
01/09/11 “Meeting David Wilson” NR 82 min This documentary follows African-American journalist David Wilson as he investigates the history of racism in America by tracing his own family geneology. In doing so, he meets a white man named David Wilson who turns out to be the progeny of the slave-owner who controlled the other David Wilson’s ancestors. Their meeting leads to an honest, painful, revealing discussion about race-relations.
02/13/11 “9500 Liberty” NR 82 min In 2007, Prince William County in Virginia enacted a policy requiring police officers to question anyone they had probable cause to believe was in the country illegally. Directors Eric Byler and Annabel Park chronicle the divisive effect the policy had on Prince William County, as well as its devastating economic impact. Local politicians come off as tools of conservative activists and bloggers, advancing policies for political expediency. Byler and Park began the project as a series of Internet videos. Not wanting to wait the months it would take to edit a feature-length documentary, they began posting video online, where their work gained a following. They continued filming as the drama unfolded. “9500 Liberty” isn’t much more sophisticated than the YouTube from which it sprang. But that works in its favor; it gives the film immediacy, as if we’re watching something urgent unfold.
03/13/11 “Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generation” NR 82 min Nicole Clark dir. Former Elite International model, Nicole Clark juxtaposes what the fashion editors of teen magazines say and what their publications actually do, exposing their hypocrisy. They claim to feature “real Girls” in their fashion spreads, but the photos of emaciated models tell a different story. Both advertisers and the editorial content convince teenage readers that the most important goal is physical perfection while priming them to buy and consume at the cost of their health and happiness. The documentary reveals the insidious reality of US consumer culture and tells parents how to combat the beauty industry’s grasp on their daughters.
04/10/11 “Temple Grandin” PG 103 min. Temple Grandin, is, well, different–she tells us before the credits start that she’s “not like other people.” But “different” is not “less.” Indeed, Grandin, who is now in her 60s, has accomplished a good deal more than a great many “normal” folks, let alone others afflicted with the autism that Grandin overcame on her way to earning a doctorate and becoming a bestselling author and a pioneer in the humane treatment of livestock. It wasn’t easy. The doctor who diagnosed her at age 4 said she’d never talk and would have to be institutionalized. Only through the dogged efforts of her mother (Julia Ormond), who was told that “lack of bonding” with her child might have caused the autism, did Grandin learn to speak; to go to high school, college, and grad school; and to become a highly productive scientist, enduring the cruel taunts of her’ classmates and the resistance of many of the adults in her life.
05/8/11 “For the Next 7 generations” – NR In 2004, 13 Indigenous Grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering, where they decided to form an alliance: The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. This is their story. Four years in-the-making and shot on location in the Amazon rainforest, the mountains of Mexico, North America, and at a private meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, For the Next 7 Generations follows what happens when these women unite. Facing a world in crisis, they share with us their visions of healing and a call for change now, before it’s too late. This film documents their unparalleled journey and timely perspectives on a timeless wisdom.
06/12/11 “Shakespeare Behind Bars” NR 93 min The plays of Shakespeare are rife with brutes and murderers–why shouldn’t they be played by brutes and murderers? In the Shakespeare Behind Bars program at Luther Luckett Prison in Kentucky, the actors are convicted felons who murdered their wives and abused children–but the documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars, like Shakespeare himself, sees these men in three dimensions, taking the time to explore the complex mixture of remorse, anger, and yearning that consumes their lives. The production of The Tempest, a play explicitly about forgiveness, is only the frame for an examination of how these men struggle to forgive themselves.
07/10/11 “Atanarjuat the Fast Runner” R 172 min This is the first feature film in the Inuktitut language, spoken by the Inuit tribes of northern Canada. The film, based on an ancient Inuit legend, is set at the dawn of the millennium. It’s an epic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge, set in motion by an evil force brought to the village of Igloolik by a mysterious shaman. Conceived by the late Paul Apak Angilirq, who co-wrote the screenplay, the film was shot on widescreen digital video by Norman Cohn (one of the few non-Inuit crew members on the shoot) and directed by Zacharias Kunuk. The film crew meticulously re-created the conditions the Inuit tribes lived under before exposure to Southern influences, using information handed down from tribe elders and the journals of Captain William Edward Parry, a British explorer who visited the area in 1822.
08/14/11 “Lives of Others” – R rated, 138 min 2006 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this is a first-rate thriller that, like Bertolucci’s The Conformist and Coppola’s The Conversation, opts for character development over car chases. The place is East Berlin, the year is 1984, and it all begins with a simple surveillance assignment: Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich), a Stasi officer and a specialist in this kind of thing, has been assigned to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) a respected playwright, and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). Everything changes when Wiesler discovers that Minister Hempf has an ulterior motive in spying on this seemingly upright citizen. Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck starts with a simple premise that becomes more complicated and emotionally involving as his assured directing debut unfolds.
09/4/11 “Skins” R rated 84 min Filmmaker Chris Eyre, who directed “Smoke Signals” — one of the first motion pictures directed by, written by, and starring Native American talent — offers another look at contemporary Native American culture in this hard-hitting drama about two brothers living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Located in the poorest county in the United States, joblessness and alcoholism are all-too-common facts of life in Pine Ridge, and Rudy and Mogie represent opposite ends of the scale of fortune. Mogie, a Vietnam veteran who came home emotionally scarred by the war, has a severe drinking problem and can’t relate to his teenage son, while Mogie’s younger brother Rudy has struggled to better himself, and as a law enforcement officer is a respected member of the Pine Ridge community. But while Rudy is determined to do something positive for his town, he feels there’s only so much he can do as a lawman, and in his off-hours he’s become a vigilante.
10/9/11 “Tying the Knot” NR 83 min Gay marriage is not a pie-in-the-sky issue. This film shows 2 real-life examples of couples that would have benefited from having their relationship realized. One woman’s wife died serving as a policewoman. Because there was no gay marriage, the widow got nothing when the deceased’s greedy relatives stepped in. In the second example, a man was going to lose his farm because the property was only in the deceased husband’s name. Even though the deceased’s sons think of the man as their second father, creditors took away horses and all other items. Additionally, this documentary details the history of marriage, including its contractual and sexist background.
11/13/11 “Ushpizin” (2004) PG 92 min An Orthodox Jewish couple’s faith is tested after praying to the Lord for a child on the Succoth holiday. In Jerusalem’s orthodox neighborhoods, it’s Succoth, seven days celebrating life’s essentials in a sukkot, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkot he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali’s doorstep in time to be their ushpizin – their guests. The miracles then become trials.
12/4/11”Cherry Blossoms” NR 124 min This is a German film, but it is infused with an Asian, particularly a Japanese point of view. Central to the film is the Butoh dance which was developed as an abstract form of modern dance. In content and in form, the film is a poem of love. When an elderly wife realizes her husband has only a short time to live, she keeps the information a secret but tries to get him involved with visiting the children (after a long absence) and beginning an adventure, completing the things he wanted to do most but left undone. A momentous event causes the husband to re-examine his life and his relationships and to travel to Japan which his wife always wanted to do. And so he walks in his love’s path and in doing so eventually become totally united with her soul.
As you can see, these films deal with diversity & gender issues, ethnicity & culture, racism, illegal immigrants, disabilities, freedom of religion, gay rights. See you at the movies!