Feminist Film Festival cultivates discourse, provides multifaceted perspectives

On April 19 and 20, the Feminist Film Festival provided an opportunity for students to gain insight into feminist perspectives. The festival showed four moving documentaries that emphasized feminist themes, Half the Sky, Miss Representation, Makers: The Women Who Make America and Girl Rising.

The Political Affairs Club, Women's Leadership Institute and the students in Professor Kristin Wylie's Political Science and International Relations' Women and Politics course hosted the festival.

“I thought it was important to bring the question of gender equality to students. Gender inequality is a pressing issue and has been called the moral challenge of our generation,” Wylie said.

According to Wylie, the festival was originally named F-bomb to show the irony of the demonization of the word “feminism” and how people are more opposed to hearing the word feminism to those involving violence. After the recent tragedy in Boston, however, the name was changed.

“We wanted to be sensitive to the psychological effects of seeing the word bomb on posters. We're empathetic to the victims, survivors and families involved,” Wylie said.

The first film shown was Half the Sky, a documentary about Nicholas Kristof and his travels to 10 different countries where he showcased the tragic stories of the women and girls who live there. On each trip Kristof brought a different celebrity. In the countries that were shown Meg Ryan, Diane Lane and America Ferrera to Cambodia, Somalia and India respectively.

I was surprised at how much this movie touched me. Listening to the stories of the girls who were sold as sex slaves and abused both verbally and physically really highlighted the inconsistencies between men and women around the globe.

Following this was Miss Representation, a movie about the glaringly unrealistic representations of women in the media and how different they are from representations of men.

Saturday was the showing of Makers: The Women Who Make America. This documentary focused on the story of the women's social reform revolution as they strove to gain fair political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy.

The final movie shown was Girl Rising, which is currently being shown in select theatres throughout the nation. It covered the stories of eight girls around the world, and while it was a documentary it took on a different form than most. Instead of reenacting some of the horrific events these young girls had to endure animation was used to tell their stories, which were narrated by a different celebrity such as Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway and Alicia Keys. The animation, while necessary, almost seemed to make light of the terrible events that happened to these girls.

Freshman Nicola Mohan said “I definitely think that this was very important to have here on campus, especially right before Sexual Assault Awareness Week, because it shines light on women issues around the globe, even issues we're struggling to fight for here in America.”

“We've discussed in class how women's rights issues are human rights issues and human rights issues are women's issues and I think this solidified this, said sophomore Tiffany Stephenson. “I think it's important because some people are really desensitized to these issues and this documentary was important in showing the power that women and girls have.”