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Identity Through the Lens Films Honor Black History Month

Christian Branch

Christian Branch

Jeni Myers

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William Peace University English Department celebrated Black History Month with “Identity Through the Lens Film Series,” hosted by, Dr. Janelle Jennings Alexander.

Throughout the whole week, WPU students were able to watch different films such as; “Birth of a Nation” (1915), “The Wiz” (1978), “Bamboozled” (2000), and “Get Out” (2017).

“I enjoyed the film festival all together. It was interesting to see how races are portrayed throughout the years of cinema,” said WPU freshman, Samuel Hardison.

The first night of the festival on Feb. 21 was the silent film “Birth of a Nation,” which was hosted by Dr. Wade Newhouse. Dr. Newhouse explained during the film how “Birth of a Nation” was a must-see movie at the time of 1915.

The film was the most controversial out of all the films during the festival, yet it followed a great discussion afterwards. Through these discussions, students were able to reflect on what life must have been like in 1915, as well as why the film was a huge cinema attraction.

“It’s interesting to have watched a film such as “Birth of a Nation” from 1915 in 2018. It was like taking a step back in time and comparing then and now to how people treated others,” said Hardison.

The next night on Feb. 22 was the movie party of “The Wiz.” It was a great opportunity for students not to just see the differences of “The Wiz” and “The Wizard of Oz,” but to see the different identities being portrayed during the film.  

On Feb. 23 it was the showing of “Bamboozled” hosted by Dr. Corinne Anderson. What made “Bamboozled” so different from any of the other films shown in the festival, was the content of the film.

“Bamboozled” was released in 2000 and directed by Spike Lee. Anderson’s introductory opened on what was going on in the new millennium at the time.  During the discussion, Anderson highlighted on why a satire such as this would be released.  

“I feel like “Bamboozled” completely missed their mark during the film because it was just shrouded by blackface.  If It was released today it would have some recourse, but maybe someone could have enjoyed it,” said Hardison.

The final film “Get Out,” was shown on Feb. 24, with a discussion hosted by Dr. Eliza Fisher Laskowski. The audience for “Get Out” was a mix between people who have and have not seen the film.

The film was directed by Jordan Peele in the year 2017. Alexander shared that the reason why this film was one of the one’s chosen, was because of there still being racial profiling in 2017.

“I thought “Get Out” was a great movie. I thought it was rather intelligent, but it was crazy,” said WPU freshman Colton Jackson.

The discussion was one of the most interactive. Many students were able to share their personal experiences, as well as their thoughts on how race is depicted.

“I liked that the film was chosen, and it dealt with the topic in a good way. You were able to see and learn things as the characters saw them,” said Jackson.

The main goal of the festival was not just to talk about stereotypes or racism in Hollywood, but rather to critically think why it might be in Hollywood from 1915 until now.

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