Good morning, afternoon, or night, wherever you may be. For those of you new to my blog, you don’t know too much other than I’m a parent and a divorced parent at that. But for those of you who have been here longer, you know that I work for the library. Working in the library has afforded me many opportunities. I love books, movies, music, and information. Being at the library allowed me to share that love with many people.
The libraries are fabulous resources of information, events, and instructional programming. Check out my post on ten things that you may not think about, which libraries do. It’s why I love libraries. And it’s why I believe libraries are here to stay, despite some rumors of their early demise. In as much as I love libraries, I believe being an advocate for them is important. It is with this in mind that I am proud to promote the Dismantling Archetypes Film Series at the La Habra Library.
It Began With An Idea
This has been a labor of love for me, beginning with the application of the grant from *California Humanities last year. Me and another staff member, who has since moved on, came up with the idea of a film series speaking to many of the major topics of today. As film engenders discussions about all sorts of issues, we believed presenting films with messages about race, gender, ethnicity, identity, immigration, and police brutality could be the impetus to a discussion about these topics that communities across the country need to have.
Film As Healer
As much as I don’t want to talk about politics on this blog, I do have one thing to say. I feel like the dialog between people has become toxic out in the world. People talk past each other instead of talking to one another. And instead of being able to work out our differences, we have exacerbated them. Despite our divide, I do think that film is an unspoken language we can both relate to. Through film, we can begin to discuss topics we wouldn’t think we could talk about otherwise. It allows us to see the choices we make play out in people’s lives in a way we could not envision on our own. I see film as the perfect way to bring healing to a society that often seems irredeemably broken.
So, as we started the grant process, we began reaching out to a bunch of different filmmakers, actors, artists, directors, professors, and historians. But first, we created a list of films that we felt would speak about the topics we felt important and used this list as a springboard for a conversation with these artisans about a film they would like to curate that would follow this theme. They would curate the film and then lead a discussion about that month’s topic with the attendees. Thankfully, we drew immediate interest in participating in this project. I have been grateful to all of the people who have been able to curate films so far.
The Dismantling Archetypes Project
I was hoping to begin the project in January and do one show a month throughout the year. But as we had limited time from getting the grant to being able to market the movie and show it in the community, we pushed the first showing back to February. February was Black history month, and we felt like a film discussion about African American issues would be of great value to the community. And our first presenter agreed. Gloria Monti, Associate Professor of Film and Television Studies at Cal State Fullerton came and curated the film Malcolm X for us. She brought a historical context to the film as well as some interesting trivia about how it connected to other African American cinema today. And she followed that up with a discussion about race in society that was appreciated by all who attended.
We have followed that up with other interesting features such as Babyface (1933), La Haine, Let the Fire Burn, and the Bride of Frankenstein. Every last Sunday of the month we have a new film with a new topic. Whether it’s modern versus early feminism, inner city slums, police brutality in an African American community, or views of outsiders in communities whether they be gay or merely different. Each curator has encouraged the community to dialog about these topics. And people with wildly disparate views have come out and felt free to speak. It’s the beauty of this series and the beauty of film in general.
Film Series Up To This Point:
Gloria Monti (Associate Film Professor Cal State Fullerton) – Malcolm X
Robert James (Film Historian) – Babyface (1933)
Steve Elkins (Film Director) – La Haine
Helen Hood Scheer (Associate Film Professor Cal State Long Beach and Documentary Filmmaker) – Let the Fire Burn
Robert James (Film Historian) – The Bride of Frankenstein
Next Months Film:
The July film, showing on 30th, will be curated by Glen Mimura, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Irvine. He will be curating a 1987 comedy written and directed by Cheech Marin. Marin stars as a Los Angeles native, accidentally rounded up in a sweep for illegal aliens, and moved across the border. He spends a large majority of the film trying to make it back across, which often leads to hysterical results. Mimura will be curating the film and leading a discussion about immigration and society. He will reflect on the immigration problems of 20 years ago and whether or not they have changed that much today. It will be a fascinating look at the time and attitudes about immigration, especially as a generalized amnesty was given the year prior.
It should be a very lively discussion. And it’s light hearted fair that pretty much the whole family can enjoy. Given the nature of these films, this is not always the case. This presentation is open to the public without cost. And the library does provide light refreshments as an added inducement. Given how hot it has been, the library is the perfect place to spend the afternoon escaping the heat and being active in an engaging in an important community discussion. The next showing is Sunday, June 30th, at 2:00 P.M.
Every month will be a different discussion. And every month will have a different display in the library with books placed that discuss some of those important topics that the film will inspire a discussion about. The library is still in negotiation over the August show. It does have a speaker. I just do not want to list a film until they have officially been locked down. Be sure to check the OC Public Libraries Website at the La Habra Branch for future dates and times. They will normally be the last Sunday of each month at 2:00 P.M.
I want to personally send a shout out to all of you who have come out to watch one of the programs. I also want to personally thank the Curators of these fine films. Without you, none of this would be possible. You have all been amazing speakers and brought your own style to the curation of each presentation. I have learned so much from you. And I hope the audiences have as well.
If you are in the Southern California area during one of these showings, please come and check out one of these films. Engage in the discussion here and become part of the solution in building communication bridges in society. And then take the ideas you discuss at the library home with you. The application is always the most important part. And for those of you who cannot make it, I hope that this might inspire you to do something similar in your community. Films inspire us to dream and to think better of ourselves than we can possibly imagine. And film can be an amazing tool in promoting discussion throughout communities encouraging non-violent means to come together.
Finally, this is all made possible by California Humanities, which is sponsored in large part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Without amazing organizations like them, the library would not be able to provide you with such a wide swath of films and an amazing bevy of talented artisans and filmmakers. Please support these organizations. And encourage your congressperson to support them as well. It’s not always in vogue to support the arts. But with presentations like this one, used to build bridges instead of erecting walls, you can see the value of these amazing organizations first hand.
(This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.)
Continue The Conversation –
So what do you think of the movie list so far? What movies would you add to the list? And what movies do you think would be excellent contributors to this film series and lead to even more discussion than we have had up to this point? I would love to hear from each and every one of you. What things are the most important things for you to discuss? Amd what’s important to you?
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guidet to Life