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Film festival explores disability and diversity in free screenings, lectures and discussions, Sept. 12-Nov. 28
Film festival explores disability and diversity in free screenings, lectures and discussions, Sept. 12-Nov. 28September 01, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee presents “Beyond Borders: The Illusion of Normalcy in Film,” a semester-long series that features a new film every other Monday night, Sept. 12-Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. in SU’s Watson Theater. Discussions and invited speakers will follow the screenings of seven extraordinary films that depict disability and diversity in various ways.
Featured guest speakers include: Michael Chemers, an assistant professor of dramatic literature at Carnegie Mellon University, who specializes in the study of freak shows (Oct. 24); Norman Kunc, an internationally known Canadian disability rights activist (Nov. 14); and Larry Bissonnette, a talented artist from Vermont who has been referred to as autistic and is the writer of the documentary film, “My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette”(Nov. 28).
Following the successes of previous film events related to disability and diversity, the goal of this year’s film series is to challenge the idea of normalcy, according Maho Kasahara, one of the series organizers.
“Narrow conceptualizations of ‘normal’ that identify, exclude and punish deviations leave only an illusional space where none feel accepted and safe. This greatly hinders the emergence of community, appreciation of diversity and respectful, inclusive spaces,” said Kasahara. “To challenge such an illusion of normalcy and encourage people to re-examine the perceived borders that work to set us apart, we will screen films and create a space for discussion regarding the historical, societal, cultural and media strategies that protect and privilege the idea of normalcy.”
“Beyond Borders: The Illusion of Normalcy in Film” opens with the Academy Award-winning drama, “Million Dollar Baby” (Sept. 12). The series lineup includes: “The Hours” (Sept. 26), “The Station Agent” (Oct. 10), “The Elephant Man” (Oct. 24), “Mozart and the Whale” (Oct. 31), “My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette” (Nov. 28) and “N.E.P.A.L. Never Ending Peace And Love,” an episode from the Korean film, “If You Were Me” (Nov. 14).
Funders and co-sponsors of the series include: Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC); the Center on Disability Studies, Law, and Human Policy; the Facilitated Communication Institute; the School of Education; U-Encounter; the Kaleidoscope Project; the LGBT Resource Center; the Writing Program; the dis/Ability Law Society; the Office of Disability Services; the Department of Sociology; the Slutzker Center for International Services; the College of Human Services and Health Professions; and the Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning.
The series is free and open to public. All films will be captioned, and sign language interpreters and film narration will be available. For more information, please contact Maho Kasahara at (315) 443-0280 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Zach Rossetti at (315) 443-3137 (email@example.com).
Beyond Borders: The Illusion of Normalcy in Film Schedule
Sept. 12: “Million Dollar Baby”The winner of four Academy-Awards in 2004, this film by director Clint Eastwood takes place in a boxing gym in Los Angeles. The film depicts the developing relationships between Missouri waitress and aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), her grizzled, reluctant trainer Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), and Frankie’s best friend and training-gym partner Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman). (Rated PG-13; 137 minutes; 2004)
Sept. 26: “The Hours”The lives of two different women are affected across time via a Virginia Woolf novel. Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) is a book editor in modern day New York who is throwing a party for a friend of hers who is dying of AIDS. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a housewife in 1949 who is planning a party for her husband but cannot put down Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.” Both women are connected to the brilliant but depressed author (Nicole Kidman) who is shown during the writing of her famous novel. (Rated PG-13; 120 minutes; 2002)
Oct. 10: “The Station Agent”Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a young man of short stature who has just lost his best friend and seeks a life of solitude in an abandoned train station. That plan is blighted by the daily appearance of a cast of characters including a friendly and talkative hot dog vendor and an artist coping with the death of her son, whose interactions with Finbar show him that none of us ever truly want to be alone. (Rated R; 88 minutes; 2003)
Oct. 24: “The Elephant Man”Director David Lynch’s portrayal of John Merrick (John Hurt), an individual with physical differences dubbed “The Elephant Man.” The film depicts his years in a circus freak show, and his ultimate acceptance by a compassionate surgeon and London high society. (Rated PG; 124 minutes; 1980)
Oct 31: “Mozart and the Whale”A romantic comedy in which Donald (Josh Hartnett) meets beautiful Isabelle (Radha Mitchell) at the peer support group for individuals who experience conditions called Asperger’s syndrome or autism. (Rated PG-13; 2005)
Nov. 14: “N.E.P.A.L. Never Ending Peace And Love”N.E.P.A.L is an episode from an award-winning Korean film “If You Were Me,” a collection of six shorts on the theme of identity and discrimination. This episode is about the true story of a Nepali woman who came to Korea to work and was mistaken as a Korean who could not speak. After being taken by the police, she was given various diagnoses such as depression and mental retardation and institutionalized in a mental hospital for more than six years. (Not rated, 28 minutes, 2003)
Featured Speaker – Norman Kunc Kunc is an internationally known Canadian disability rights activist who has cerebral palsy. He and his wife, Emma Van der Klift, have spent the last 20 years working to ensure that people with disabilities are able to take their rightful place in schools, workplaces and communities. They are keenly interested in how story, art and literature can be used to evoke social change. They are the authors of an award-winning message video, “Credo for Support.” At Beyond Borders, Kunc will discuss the issues around institutionalization, the practice of labeling, an illusional concept of “normal” and inclusion and belonging.
Nov. 28: “My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette”This documentary, produced by Douglas Biklen and Zach Rossetti and written by Vermont artist Larry Bissonnette, shows a day in Bissonnette’s life. Looking back on his years of living in a closed institution for people labeled mentally retarded, he assesses this form of “apartheid” as “better for growing vegetables rather than people.” The film is filled with Bissonnette’s humorous, but poignant assessments of his life, including this one about labeling: “Fastening labels on people is like leasing cars with destinations determined beforehand.” (Not rated, 20 minutes, 2005)