Film festivals to look at social issues

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

The mini-documentary film series, titled “Social Doc! Screening Series,” begins the first of its three film screenings, “Free Trade Refugees: From Chiapas to the Prairie” at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The film screenings are also a part of the Embarras Valley Film Festival.

The first film screening will take a closer look at a village of people from Chiapas as they migrate to the Midwest and how they cope with both the economical and political shifts as a result of the move.

Each of the three film screenings will take a closer look at a variety of different social issues and will help raise more awareness and also create a discussion about creating solutions to solve some of these problems.

The directors of the films will also be available after the film screenings to answer questions from the audience.

The other two film screenings, “Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon,” and the social documentaries of Angela Aguayo, will be shown at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 and Dec. 3.

David Gracon, a communication studies professor, said the whole purpose of the screening is to create a dialog between the filmmakers and Eastern.

“The focal point of the series is to create a community dialog between filmmakers, their films and the EIU and Charleston community,” Gracon said. “The documentary films deal with a variety of social issues and problems ranging from the plight of Mexican immigrants in the Midwest to police violence in Portland, Ore., and a brief history of the Black Panthers in Carbondale, Ill.”

Gracon said the idea is to create more awareness regarding these social issues to find solutions to them through dialog and action.

His experience as a filmmaker, as well as meeting other filmmakers and discussing some of their work helped to create the documentary film series at Eastern, Gracon said.

“I meet filmmakers and see their work and want to share this work with others in my classes, at Hallways Microcinema, a microcinema I run and organize in Champaign, Ill., or here on the EIU campus,” Gracon said. “The various works all relate to issues of social justice and a variety of social problems.”

Gracon said these kinds of social problems are also discussed heavily in communication studies.

“A lot of the critical works we do here in communication studies deals very directly with these issues of power,” Gracon said. “So it seemed like a good fit to have a critical film series that brings a variety of people together outside the classroom to discuss and learn from each other.”

Gracon also said to have the films’ directors come in and speak about their films is a great opportunity for those who attend these events.

“Student can see the critical issues addressed in the films, the same issues they are discussing and learning about in their classes here in communication studies,” Gracon said. “Also, all the filmmakers are women, and this was very deliberate as the film and media industries are very male dominated. So I thought it was also important to showcase female filmmakers and their particular voices on these issues.”

Gracon said this was the first time this film series was on campus and the series is sponsored by the department of communication studies and the film studies minor.

“My goal is to have as many people in attendance as possible. I’m hoping for a diverse mixture of students from all majors, faculty members, university employees as well as people from the surrounding communities,” Gracon said. “The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome and free to partake in the discussion and learn about globalization and the plight of Mexican immigrants this Thursday night.”


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]