University of Delaware

Gender in film

Wednesday afternoon series to consider 'Gender in International Film'


2 p.m., Sept. 24, 2012--A Wednesday afternoon series at the University of Delaware will consider “Gender in International Film.”

The series features films from England, South Korea, Rwanda, Mexico and Iran and will meet from 3:35-6:35 p.m., Wednesdays, in 209 Ewing Hall.

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Part of a course, the series is open to the public.

Films are scheduled as follows:

Oct. 3 -- Billy Elliot (England). Reactions to girls who like to do “boy activities” and boys who like to do “girl activities” make clear the social nature of gender construction. This dynamic is exacerbated in the coalmining town of Durham County, England, where Billy Elliot lives with his father and brother. Tough masculinity is normatively valued and further encouraged by the stress of angry clashes between striking miners and police. It’s within this setting that Billy realizes he wants to learn ballet. Themes include: breaking gendered rules; the father-son relationship; British working class culture; motivation and perseverance; acceptance and attitude change toward more flexible gender standards. 

Oct. 10 -- Poetry or Shi (South Korea). Yang Mija is a proud woman in her mid-60s, who looks after her ungrateful teenage grandson, Wook, and helps care for an older disabled gentleman friend. She confronts a modern South Korea where male privilege, combined with the power of capitalism, has eclipsed a past that revered old age. It’s within this cultural milieu that Mija deals with a girl’s rape/suicide and with her own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Although she faces a grim future, she finds a means of expression through learning to write poetry. Themes include: the intersection of sexism, ageism, classism; dealing with male violence; generational conflict; beauty and escape through poetry. 

Oct. 17 -- Kinyarwanda (Rwanda). In 1994, the African nation of Rwanda endured 100 days of brutal ethic fighting in which Hutu forces used anti-Tutsi propaganda to incite genocidal violence against them. This award-winning movie allows viewers to experience multiple real life stories occurring in Rwanda at this time. Hutus and Tutsis share a language, they intermarry, they are neighbors and friends and during this awful war, many remain humane and remember the humanity of others. Ultimately this movie speaks to love, courage, healing and forgiveness. Themes include: the legacy of colonialism and the creation of divisions; women’s and men’s roles in war and peace; hope. 

Oct. 24 -- Like Water for Chocolate or Como Agua para Chocolate (Mexico). This 1990s film, based on a bestselling book by the same name, uses magical realism to belittle machismo and question tradition. Both the book and the screenplay were written by Laura Esquivel. The story takes place roughly 100 years ago against the backdrop of the Mexican revolution, but the main action takes place in the kitchen of the wealthy De La Garza hacienda. It’s here that Tita’s forbidden love for Pedro finds expression in food. Themes include: social class and tradition; the mother and daughter relationship; women surviving (but not necessarily thriving) without men; women’s connection to power through food; women as advocates and adversaries. 

Oct. 31 -- A Separation (Iran). A Separation, this year’s Academy Award winner for best foreign language film, is about individual choice and consequence amid social circumstance and a desperate political system. Simin wants to divorce Nader because he refuses to leave Iran. He refuses to leave because he feels responsible for his father who has Alzheimer’s. When Nader hires Razieh to care for the father, it sets in motion a chain of events that plunge the characters into a web of chaos. Themes include: Iran’s laws: marriage, divorce, reproduction; gender and social class; women as caregivers; gender and religion; choice and expediency.

The series is sponsored by UD’s Department of Women and Gender Studies.

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