Thursday Film Series: All Posts

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
12_traces_ofthe_trade.jpgCo-sponsored by the Lively Arts program, Fine Arts Center and the Department of Music and Dance, UMass Amherst.
Thursday Film Series

Thursday, September 25, 7:30 p.m., in Herter Hall 227.

Shown in commemoration of the bicentennial of U.S. abolition of the slave trade.

UPDATE: Holly Fulton and her husband Bill Peebles will be in attendance to introduce and discuss the film!bill-peebles-and-holly-fulton-at-umass-screening.JPG

Please click here for more information on Holly Fulton.

From the filmmakers: “In Traces of the Trade, Producer/Director Katrina Browne tells the story of her forefathers, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. Given the myth that the South is solely responsible for slavery, viewers will be surprised to learn that Browne’s ancestors were Northerners. The film follows Browne and nine fellow family members on a remarkable journey which brings them face-to-face with the history and legacy of New England’s hidden enterprise.”

Please click here for more information on Traces of the Trade.

UPDATE: Read Mike King’s comments on the recent screening and discussion: “The imperfect process of recording history has a tendency to develop a selective memory and ignore the darkest little secrets – though some are not so little. Descriptions of the early years of the American republic noted in textbooks and classrooms tend to focus on the United States’ gradual development into a world power. Yet one of the primary drivers of its contemporary economic and social circumstances is categorically ignored: slavery and the international slave trade. The film, “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” directly attacks such historical inaccuracies. The pursuant discussion, conducted by Holly Fulton (one of the film’s participants) and her husband Bill Peebles, after the documentary’s viewing broached a series of wide-ranging historical and social topics…”  READ MORE

Mike King is BA candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Gattaca

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
13_gattaca4.jpgCo-sponsored by the Lively Arts program, Fine Arts Center and the Department of Music and Dance, UMass Amherst.
Thursday Film Series

October 16, 7:30 p.m., in Herter Hall 227.

Please join us for a screening and discussion hosted by Laura Lovett, Associate Professor of History, UMass Amherst, and director of the Five College Women’s Research Center.

UPDATE: Read Mike King’s comments on the recent screening of Gattaca and post-film discussion!

“Though much of the Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series focuses on human life valuation by examining the past, the recent screening of the film Gattaca and the accompanying discussion delved into how the value of human life could be determined in the future. The event, hosted by Laura Lovett, Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, remained grounded in historical precedent to evaluate future possibilities.”READ MORE

PLEASE SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BY CLICKING ON THE “COMMENTS” BUTTON HERE!


A Healthy Baby Girl

Monday, August 18th, 2008
14_healthybabygirl.gifCo-sponsored by the Lively Arts program, Fine Arts Center and the Department of Music and Dance, UMass Amherst.
Thursday Film Series

October 23, 7:30 p.m., in Herter Hall 227

Hosted by Jennifer Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, Hampshire College.

From the filmmaker’s website: “A Healthy Baby Girl is an intimate, humorous, yet searing exploration of what happens when science, marketing, and corporate power enter our deepest family relationships. A Healthy Baby Girl is an inter-generational story of one family’s response to an ethical and technological crisis, experienced from their home in Merrick, Long Island.

In 1963, filmmaker Judith Helfand’s mother was prescribed the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), meant to prevent miscarriage and ensure a healthy baby. But technology is rarely a benign midwife. In 1990, at age twenty-five, Helfand was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. She went home to her family to heal from a radical hysterectomy. There she picked up her camera. Her video diary, A Healthy Baby Girl, was shot over five years and goes beyond loss to document mother-daughter love, family renewal, survival, political awakening, and community activism.”

Please click here for more information on A Healthy Baby Girl.

Read Mike King’s comments on the film: “Though the overarching concept of how to value human life can have a profound impact on society, it also can significantly affect individuals and families. The screening of the 1996 film, A Healthy Baby Girl, raised this issue by examining the experiences of one family, as a part of the Feinberg Distinguished Lecture Series.
The documentary follows the lives of filmmaker Judith Helfand and her mother. The elder Helfand was prescribed the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) prior to giving birth as a means to prevent miscarriage and effectively guarantee a healthy birth. Yet the film focuses on Helfand’s experience once she is diagnosed with cervical cancer – a side-effect from the DES her mother took some 25 years earlier.”  READ MORE

The House We Live In

Thursday, August 14th, 2008
15_thehousewelivein.jpgCo-sponsored by the Lively Arts program, Fine Arts Center and the Department of Music and Dance, UMass Amherst.
Thursday Film Series

November 6, 7:30 p.m., in Herter Hall 227.

(From Race: The Power of an Illusion, a series on race in society, science and history), hosted by Wilson Valentin-Escobar, Assistant Professor of Sociology and American Studies, Hampshire College.

From the filmmakers: “If race doesn’t exist biologically, what is it? And why should it matter? Our final episode, The House We Live In, is the first film about race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior but on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others. Its subject is the “unmarked” race: white people. We see how benefits quietly and often invisibly accrue to white people, not necessarily because of merit or hard work, but because of the racialized nature of our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, housing.

The film begins by looking at the massive immigration from eastern and southern Europe early in the 20th century. Italians, Hebrews, Greeks and other ethnics were considered by many to be separate races. Their “whiteness” had to be won. But who was white? The 1790 Naturalization Act had limited naturalized citizenship to “free, white persons.” Many new arrivals petitioned the courts to be legally designated white in order to gain citizenship. Armenians, known as “Asiatic Turks,” succeeded with the help of anthropologist Franz Boas, who testified on their behalf as an expert scientific witness.”

Read Margo Shea’s comments on the film and discussion: “On Thursday, November 6, 2008, the Feinberg Series screened “The House We Live In, ” the third and final episode of the miniseries, “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” which was created in order to examine the notions of race we all hold and their implications. Larry Adelman, the series’ producer, asserted that the intent of the documentary was to show how the institutions and policies we create give race social meaning and power by offering advantages to white people.

Wilson Valentín-Escobar, assistant professor of sociology at Hampshire College, introduced the film and facilitated a discussion afterwards. Valentín-Escobar underscored the significance of the film; The House We Live In examines not simply the constructions of race , but its materiality – particularly the opportunities, life chances and privileges that emerge out of the values of those who hold and wield social, economic and political power.”  READ MORE

The Sweet Hereafter

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
The Sweet HereafterCo-sponsored by the Lively Arts program, Fine Arts Center and the Department of Music and Dance, UMass Amherst.
Thursday Film Series

November 13, 7:30 p.m., in Herter Hall 227.

Hosted by Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College.

Director Atom Egoyan’s haunting adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel follows a grieving Canadian mountain community in the wake of a tragic school bus accident. Lawyer Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm) arrives in town to persuade the survivors to initiate a class-action lawsuit, driving apart the once tight-knit hamlet. Meanwhile, a teen crippled in the crash (Sarah Polley) must choose between mourning and getting on with life.

“This is one of the best films of the year, an unflinching lament for the human condition.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times, December 23, 1997.

Read Michael Shapiro’s insightful comments about the film and discussion: “The Sweet Hereafter is an incredibly moving film.  In addition to director Atom Egoyan’s beautiful and respectful presentation of the sadness that accompanies life after loss, the film forces viewers to confront the complexities of law, community, and the value of human life.  A lawyer travels to a small town after a bus accident kills all of the town’s children to convince the parents of the victims and the bus driver to sue an unnamed entity.  The lawyer, played by Ian Holm, argues, “There is no such thing as an accident.  That word doesn’t mean anything to me.  As far as I’m concerned, somebody somewhere made a decision to cut a corner.  Some corrupt agency or corporation accounted the cost variance between a ten-cent bolt and a million dollar out-of-court settlement.  They decided to sacrifice a few lives for the difference.”  It reminded me of a previous Feinberg discussion about global warming.  Economists tabulate how much it is worth to spend now to avert future disasters, and they often conclude that it would be too expensive and that future generations should deal with it themselves.  They argue that there is a limit to how much should be spent to save lives.  A moralist would say that we need to spend whatever it takes to avert a future disaster, and the debate continues.  So, should the families find someone to blame or should they accept that some things are accidents of fate?  Does one approach value life more than the other?” READ MORE