Movies Through the Eyes of Educators

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Movies Through the Eyes of Educators

Deja Magee

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The faculty of CSUN can be disregarded as simply professors who teach the people of tomorrow, but one might forget that they have their own lives, tastes and desires aside from wanting to see their students succeed. However, because of their tastes, it lets them decide what they want their students to be exposed to when it comes to important cinematic narratives.

1. “North Sea Texas”

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“North Sea Texas” is a film that is a part of CSUN’s Cinematheque screenings at the Elaine and Alan Armer Theater. Every semester, the Armer Theater has a series of films centered around certain narratives. This semester, this particular set of screenings looks at the perspective through the eyes of the LGBT community. The movies are curated by Dr. Michael Johnson Jr., a professor of media theory and criticism.

“It’s a Belgium film about a teenage boy in Belgium who comes to realize his attraction to another boy that he is friends with,” Johnson said. “It’s an interesting film that kind of illustrates the importance of being sensitive to, and attentive to, how sexual identity develops when you’re a child, and it’s importance to our life. It’s very meaningful and I think that it’d be a great film for all of our students to watch.”

2. “Moonlight”

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Another LGBT film in the lineup from the Cinematheque screenings, but one that is more well-known than some others. “Moonlight” is an Oscar-Award winning movie that many people are familiar with, directed and written by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney.

“A film that looks at a young African-American man growing up in Miami and how he comes to terms with his sexual identity and how that reflects on what we, contemporarily, understand on what ‘masculinity’ means,” Johnson explained. “It’s also an interesting film in that it’s shown in three acts in contemporary film today. You don’t get to see what happens in his life in between those moments. You only get snapshots, and so I thought that was an interesting and novel way to approach storytelling. It’s meaningful not only for the plot, but also how we understand ourselves.”

3. “Center Jenny”

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English professor Dr. Christopher Higgs and his former student Katharine Mason curate “The Reimagining Narrative Film Series” here in CSUN’s English department.

A recommendation from Dr. Higgs is “Center Jenny,” an experimental film directed and written by Ryan Trecartin that’s a part of the nonprofit organization Electronic Arts Intermix. It was filmed on a soundstage that had a modular maze built on it with help from Hollywood technicians. The film follows a group of girls who are all named Jenny, and simply shows the true absurdity of life.

When asked as to why he picked “Center Jenny,” Higgs said, “(Trecartin is) doing something that no one else is doing, and that is trying to inhabit the chaos of the world rather than trying to frame the chaos of the world into a digestible and understandable experience. So whereas most films try to take reality and make it serviceable or make it understandable or make it palatable — ”

His colleague, Katharine Mason, interjected by saying, “That is not what directors typically do. They don’t want to reflect experience, they want to reflect an imagined experience.”

Editor’s Note: The print version of this article incorrectly said that “Center Jenny,” a film recommendation, was the first film in Dr. Higgs’ “The Reimagining Narrative Film Series.” This corrected version states it is a mere recommendation separate from the series.