FILM REVIEWS

Gender|African-American|Ethnicity/Religion/Social Class|Lesbianism/Homosexuality/Bisexuality

GENDER

Killing us Softly (1981) and Still Killing us Softly (1987) (30 minutes)

Cambridge Documentary Films,

The second film of Jean Kilborne's is a more recent version of the first. Some people prefer one to the other, but I find them sufficiently similar that it doesn't really matter which to view. Both of these films focus upon the role of women in advertising. They show us how little girls are made into adults, and how adults are made into body parts and little girls. The films make students acutely aware of the subtle and sometimes not so subtle, but powerful, effects of advertising on perceptions of women.

Stale Roles and Tight Buns: Images of men in Advertising (1988) (29 minutes)

Brighton, Mass

The is a response to Killing us softly. It shows how men are portrayed in advertising ranging from the Marlboro man to the inept dad. I have shown this in conjunciton with Killing Us softly so that students can gain a more thorough perspective about the distortions of advertising. Frankly, I doubt that the harm done to men in advertising compares to the very negative stereotypes of women in advertising, but students ' conversation demonstrates that they enjoy contrasting the two film. I believe this and the former films teach students to be more wary of the power of advertising.

Men's Lives (1974) (43 minutes)

New Day Films

The film shows us the kinds of responsiblities that have burdened men. Having to care for a family financially, to get ahead, to be successful, and to be emotionally remote are examined throughout the film. I like the film but find it a bit heavy handed in its presentation of the lives of those who have the power.

To Have and To Hold ( 20 minutes)

New Day Films, 121 W. 27th Street, Suite 902, NY, NY 10001; (212) 645-8210

A group of men who have battered their wives have formed together for support to learn alternative means to deal with their frustration and anger. They want this film to be shown in Battered Women's Shelters. The men describe their relationships where they treated their wives as a possession, the role of alcohol in their violent outbursts, and a society where violence seems to be a male perogative. They encourage men to seek help prior to violence so that women do not have to leave.

A Word in Edgewise (1986) (26 minutes)

Women Make Movies, 225 Lafayette St., NY, NY

The film is primarily excellent interviews and depictions concerning the history and evolution of non-generic use of language. We learn how language has evolved and become unconsiously biased. How words effect behavior is clearly explained. An excellent film.

Heroes and Strangers (1987) (29 mins.)

New Day Films, 121 W. 27th Stret, Suite 902, NY, NY 10001; (212) 645-8210
A white woman and a white man describe their rather estranged relationships with their fathers. Their reflections and their descriptions seem typical of the non-involved fathers of the 50s despite the image of the "Father Knows Best" type of relationship. Not only did the fathers work long hours, but they also had strong attitudes toward holding their little girls, intimacy with their sons. The individuals feel as if they did not know their fathers, had their mothers' interpret the fathers, and wonder how much he actually cares. This picture is not pretty and probably does not reflect the types of relationships that our average students of the 90s have had with their fathers. The film attempts to answer how the fathers came to be this way, but this question is not answered.

Acquired Taste (26 minutes)

New Day Films,121 W. 27th Stret, Suite 902, NY, NY 10001; (212) 645-8210

Acquired Taste is a film maker's testimonial to the pressures on boys and men to be successful. The message is be tough, ogle the girls, win awards, be ruthless, and keep secret notes on the competition so you can beat them. Frankly I found the film to be boring. There is nothing new here.

The Women of Summer:An unknown chapter of American social history ( 1985) (57 minutes)

Filmakers Library, 124 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

The reunion and reminiscing about the leader of the school and program, Hilda "Jane" Smith, of many of the women who attended Bryn Mawr College's celebrated summer program is the raison d'etre of this film. During the beginning of the century, Smith, with alumni and board approval and development assistance, forged ahead with a program where young factory women were exposed to leaders of social movements ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Margaret Sanger to Walter Reuther. The women took "classes" in English and economics where their ideas were heard and their lives reflected in the models used for learning the principles of labor. Many of these young women were immigrants; Black women were included started in 1926. The young women lost their own intolerance while learning, in many cases, to be activists. I cannot use the film in my Diversity course, but the film is worth while and educational. It beautifully shows the value of education in reduction of class distincitions.

Going Past Go: An essay on sexism (59 minutes)

PBS, 475 L'enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, D. C 20024 800 424-7963

This film essay exams, "What is sexism?" Is it beauty pageants, is it phrases in textbooks, is it unequal pay? Mostly women from a variety of walks of life are interviewed. A common perception is that what is "normal" is not sexist, or at least not seen as such. Knowing that women's achievements have been limited within certain professions, seeing the minimal expectations of women represented in commercials, understanding that aging women are not valued, and realizing that definitions of masculinity and marriage are some of the issues that are explored. This is a well conceived and developed documentary.

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AFRICAN-AMERICAN/RACE

Interracial Marriage
(about 40 mins.)

Films for the Humanities & Sciences, PO Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 98543-2053l (800)257-5126

Several couples who have married across racial lines are interviewed concerning their own personal dilemmas and adjustments as well as those of their children. The couples include a Hispanic married to a Japanese, a Black married to a White Jew, and a Hawaiian married to a White. The issues they discuss are somewhat consistent, and they all have figured ways to cope. They seem to be well adjusted and content married couples. The children who are interviewed seemed to have considerable insight into their situation. This is one of the best films I have seen.

Passing (3 minutes)

University of California Extenxion, Center for Media and Independent Learning, Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-0460

A white woman walks down the street and spots black men walking toward her. The film portrays the sorts of headlines concerning violence of black men that pass through her mind.

Racism 101 (60 minutes)

PBS

The Frontline documentary examines racism within the university. Cases of racist comments in University newspapers and university radio stations stir controversy and feelings of inequality. While a number of universities receive attention, Dartmouth's conservative newspaper, not sponsored by the university, and the University of Michigan receive more in-depth reporting. This film is disconcerting in that many students would like to believe that racist remarks and behavior are dead issues, especially on college campuses.

Ethnic Notions (1987) (56 minutes)

California Newsreel

The film provides a history to racism as projected in the media. The film gives us examples from movies, from advertisements, and even from souvenir artifacts??? and even It gives us the origin for Jim Crow, for Aunt Jemima, for Sambo, and other stereotypes that are less prevalent now than 20 years ago. This superb film allows students to see the milieu in which their parents were raised. They are shocked at the blatent racism where no one raised an eyebrow.

A Question of Color (1992) (58 minutes)

California Newsreel

Here we are given insight into the kinds of prejudices which exist within the Black race. We are informed about the meanings and interpretations of the various shades. We are also educated concerning hair. What service this film performs is that Blacks learn that their secrets are out and whites are amazed that prejudice occurs with in a minority group.

Fires in the Mirror (82 minutes)

PBS

Anna Deavere Smith portrays many faces of those who were invoved in the incidents between Hasidic Jews and Blacks in New York in the late eighties. Not only is she an incredible actress, but she shows the pain and anger that both sides possessed. This film shows that prejudice and discrimination can occur from many directions. I wish that everyone had the time to show and discuss this wonderful film that exposes ethnic violence and mispercpetions.

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ETHNICITY/RELIGION/SOCIAL CLASS

Latino Families
(28 minutes)

Films for the Humanities & Sciences, PO Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 98543-2053l (800)257-5126

This film has three segments. Heritage concerns a divorced mother serving as a role model for her three sons about her ability to achieve an education and her attachment to her Hispanic history. The second segment features two Native American/Hispanic women who perform their search for identity. The third segment shows and interviews members of a family during a "sunday in the Park". The film doesn't have a point that I could discern.

Mah Jong Orphan (45 minutes)

New Day Films, 121 W. 27th Stret, Suite 902, NY, NY 10001; (212) 645-8210

A young Chinese Canadian describes her childhood, expectations, feelings, and rebellion. Her mother, shown alone, with her family, and with her friends, explains her position. The contrast between the desire to maintain and preserve a culture and a heritage and the wish to conform, to be like everyone else in such things as food choices and household furnishings, and mostly, to date and marry outside of Chinese is quite poingnant. Once the young woman marries and has children she becomes more interested in her heritage so that her child learns "who" he is. The schizophrenic balance between two cultures is not unique to Chinese so the film could easily be used to reflect the felt rift. The film is well edited, well filmed and has constant high quality sound.

Blue Collar and Buddha (1990) (57 minutes)

Filmakers Library,24 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

The documentary follows the introduction of Laotian monks into a blue collar town. The Buddhist monks and their ceremonies are shown. Many of the townspeople are interviewed about their opinions of the monks. Students believe that the individuals who were interviewed do not represent the mainstream - many are interviewed in a local bar. Nonetheless the film depicts the sort of conflict that can exist between immigrants and "locals".

From the Bottom Up (1990) (57 minutes)

Jeff Spitz Productions, Chicago

This video demonsrates that a few committed and earnest individuals within a community can combat economic decline. Towns that have major corporations leave and ghettos in New York are examples where grass roots movements have helped restore some semblence of self-reliance and ability to maintain one's community. Barbara Jordan narrates this uplifting video.

Living on the Edge (57 minutes)

PBS

The film follows the lives of two families as a company downsizes and the men lose their jobs. How the family and the men respond is a sign of the fear that many families live with on a daily basis. The narrative seems quite similar to the types of information provided in Rubin's text, Families on the Fault Line.

No Place like Home (about 1/2 hour)

University of California Extenxion, Center for Media and Independent Learning, Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-0460

The story of a family who lives in a motel from the perspective of approximately a nine year old girl is told. The mother has spent many years in prison due to drugs, guns, etc., had been described as a habitual criminal. Her ability to express herself, her devotion to her children, her capacity to locate another residence, and her general goals for her children may surprise some students. A teen age daughter who has runaway returns, and a teenage son is seen but not interviewed. The girl is sometimes a little difficult to understand but her simple wants such as having Daddy back even though he was an abuser poignantly show the dilemmas that are faced. The ending is abrupt as we are left with people who are adrift.

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LESBIANISM, HOMOSEXUALITY, BISEXUALITY

Out in Suburbia (1988) 28 minutes

Filmmakers Library, 124 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

Peeks into the lives of approximately 10 lesbians through interviews and excellent filming shows us how they have come out, how they have interacted with their families and friends, anda bit about their relationships with their partners. One pair of lesbians were sisters, and another were about to be the mothers of twins. From my perspective the only drawback to the film is that it only focuses on lesbians.

Friends and Lovers (app 30 min)

University of California Extenxion, Center for Media and Independent Learning, Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-0460

The film reveals comments from four homosexual couples. These men, all who are HIV positive, describe how they met and developed their relationship. They also discuss their perspectives on the meaning of friendships and love relationships. They are as varied as any eight people could be. The film provides insight into the nature of these relationships during difficult times.

Man Oh Man (1987) (18 minutes)

New Day Films, 121 W. 27th Stret, Suite 902, NY, NY 10001; (212) 645-8210

Nice vido showing a thorough variety of men working, playing, relating. The filmaker talks to a few of them and over-voices the expectations that men have. She examines them from her own developmental perspective from her childhood playmates to her first boyfriends to those who left home to go to Viet Nam. She listens to them talk about their emotions, their responsibilities, their coping, their competitiveness. she states at the end that, "I now see men for who they are.....not just what I want them to be." An excellent film.

Life and Times of Harvey Milk (87 minutes)

Beverly Hills, Pacific Arts Video

I have shown this film in Social Psychology rather than Diversity, but there is no reason why it could not be included. Harvey Milk led the cause to modify the districting of San Francicso so that representatives could be elected by a smaller group of people. He ran several times before he, an "out" gay man, was finally elected. He worked hard to eradicate legal discriminations against gays. He was killed along with Mayor Mosconi by a fellow supervisor, Dan White. The history and commitment of Harvey Milk gives students good acquaintance with modern day social movements.

Out: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Youth (39 mins.)

Filmmaker's Library, 124 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

"You'll grow out of it." Out listens to teenagers who have accepted their sexuality but struggle with others accepting them for who they are. Parents as well as strangers have difficutly believing that youth know that they are gay. Some of the youth admit that it was easier to tell friends and strangers than their families. Many of the young people describe the encounters they have had with their parents and families. Some parents are interviewed about how they have dealt with their realities. Parents and Families of Lesbian and Gays serves as a support group and participates in many of the marches. I think this is an especially excellent film for college students, so that they udnerstand that, if they are gay or lesbian, they are not alone.

Because This is About Love (28 minutes)

Filmmaker's Library, 124 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

Lesbians and gays who marry or participate in a ritual ceremony tell us why they chose to marry. For all it cemented the relationship. Nonetheless there are differences with some marrying during the March on Washington to a bonding that occured after an AIDS death. They marrieds relate their reasoning, their choices, their family responses, and they types of ceremonies they used. A modest amount of home videos are included.

Silent Pioneers/ Gay and Lesbian Elders (42 minutes. Also available in 30 minutes.)

Filmmaker's Library, 124 E. 40th Street, NY. NY 10016, (212) 808-4980

We meet gay and lesbian people who reflect on their lives. The assortment of elderly people provides depth and range of experiences. Some individuals did not realize they were queer until they had aged, others knew in childhood. Some have been involved in the gay rights movement and others live their lives quietly. Some mates have been together for over fifty years. One black woman picnics with her grown grandchildren as they discuss her lesbianism. This fine film explores sexuality while interviewing vital individuals who have contributed broadly to our society.

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GENERAL

Bill Cosby on Prejudice (1971) (25 minutes)

Pyramid Film and Video

A very young Bill Cosby sits on a stool and portrays a bigot who hates ALL ethnicities - blacks, chinese, jews, scots, Germans, etc. He explores the stereotypes for each of these ethnicties while demonstrating the voice and limitations of those who are intolerant. The film makes statements that are excellent to explore in further classroom discussions.

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