Feminist issues highlighted at film fest

Valentina Vargas, Multicultural Reporter

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies along with the Coles County Arts Council showcased underrepresented student filmmaker films about feminist issues such as cultural stereotypes about mental health within the communities of color.

The first place documentary film, Everywhere We Go, directed by various ladies for the U.S. Teen entry, followed the life of two teenage girls, one Mexican and the other black, that both of their lives are affected by mental illness.

Natalie Rodriguez, the Mexican teenage girl, said in the film her family is not very understanding of her illness.

Rodriguez said as a Latina they are portrayed to be tough or sassy and do not need anyone.

She said the people from her culture do not believe them when they say they need someone and need help.

Robin Murray, a professor of English and Women Studies, said they tried to highlight diverse films, so they showed different culture films from South Africa to even Vietnam.

“Different cultures who are represented and the different stories told are going to need the needs of different students,” Murray said.

Films shown in the Dounda Lecture Hall were part of the Women’s History and Awareness Month events and were award-winning films of the 2019 Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival.

Murray presented the 2019 Central Illinois feminist films that they had started showing since 2008.

She said the films are very inspiring to students because they are by student makers from either colleges or high schools and can see the filmmaking happening all over the world.

The fictional film Papital directed by Narges Zakeri, Murray said was her most favorite one.

Papital is an animated story film about a scarecrow shown at first scaring away the birds, until one little bird who was escaping from a huntsman hides in the scarecrow’s pocket.

The short film gives the impression of love after the scarecrow realizes the bird will not leave his side, and this took first place in the fictional film selections.

Murray said it was a beautiful story because it was able to show it in a universal way about not needing any words spoken; the animation said it all.

“Because of course (the film is) Iranian, but still had the story come through for a wide audience,” Murray said. “I thought was beautiful, and of course it was an uplifting story too.”

Two different film selections were shown, one was fictional that had top three winners and an honorable mention, and the other section was documentary with also top three winner films and an honorable mention.

Murray said their contest films had to focus on different global or local issues, cultural issues, and underrepresented filmmakers.

She said the contest became an interval part of it and they were able to fund their awards for the films through the Coles County Arts Council grant.

Valentina Vargas can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].