What began as an on-campus club, CineCulture has blossomed into an academic course that engages with community members who wish to discuss independent filmography at film screenings CineCulture puts on.
Club adviser and instructor Dr. Mary Husain has been preparing for the start of the fall semester’s screening season.
“Respect for diversity and promoting intercultural diversity” is Husain’s main criterium for the lineup selection process. Each film is also expected to have strong cinematography and visuals.
CineCulture club is not just about watching movies. The heart of the course rests in the post-screening discussions where students and community members are invited to share their interpretations of the film.
“It really opens up a whole new world,” Husain said. “Film has a way of bringing up an understanding of cultural groups.”
In addition to other faculty members, Husain invites directors, producers and creators related to the film to help facilitate discussion.
“It’s been a really positive experience, and I’ve really tried to cultivate relationships with directors and producers, and I really value the collaboration between the departments on campus,” Husain said.
While some directors were initially hesitant to drive to the Central Valley, the experience has turned into some of their best discussions, Husain said.
“The whole idea is grounded in the core principles of Fresno State in respect to diversity,” Husain said. “There’s always something that speaks to diversity, social justice and intercultural respect.”
For some students who participate in the course, this will be their first time watching movies with subtitles, Husain said.
While the films differ from typical blockbusters, the point of the screenings does not rest on entertainment.
“I don’t expect every student to love every film,” Husain said. “I think they need to watch it with an open mind. They have an opportunity to ask questions. It’s a unique opportunity to get the behind-the-scenes story of the film.”
When it comes to the lineup, Husain could not choose a favorite film. Each film provides the opportunity to gain true intercultural respect, she said.
Screenings will take place on Fridays in the Peters Education Center Auditorium inside the Student Recreation Center. All Filmworks films will be shown at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave. Parking is relaxed after 4 p.m. on Fridays.
The first screening will take place this Friday.
CineCulture Screening Schedule for Fall 2017:
Sept. 1: “The Eagle Huntress” (2016)
Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl
Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the Hamptons International Film Festival, “The Eagle Huntress” tells the story of Aisholopan, a 13-year-old Kazakh girl who after 12 generations is training to become the first female eagle hunter in her family.
Husain describes the film as an “epic narrative” that empowers females.
Sept. 8: Filmworks: “Pop Aye” (2017)
Set in Bangkok, Thailand, Thana, an architect who is on the outs with his career and marriage, runs into Pop Aye, an elephant from his childhood. After purchasing Pop Aye, the two set off to the farm where they grew up, facing a few adventures along the way.
Sept. 15: “The Fencer” (2015)
Discussant: Dr. Michelle Denbeste
Former fencing champion Endel Nelis lives a low-profile life as a physical education teacher in a small Estonian village, teaching his students the art of fencing. Hiding away from the Soviet secret police, Nelis must decide between his craft and his protection when his fencing students wish to compete on the national level.
Sept. 22: “Paper Lanterns” (2016)
Discussant: Chad Cannon (composer)
Shigeaki Mori was just a young boy when American forces dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a catastrophic tragedy that killed an estimated 140,000 people, including 12 American prisoners of war. Years and years later, Mori continues his work to discover each man’s story and bring the truth of their deaths to their families.
“It’s a reconciliation film,” said Husain.
Sept. 29: “The Promise” (2016)
Discussant: Carla Garapedian (associate producer)
A photojournalist and an Armenian medical student rival one another for the heart of an Armenian artist but must collaborate with one another to survive as the Ottoman Empire strikes an alliance with Germany to bring genocide to the two countries’ ethnic minorities.
Oct. 6: “Bitter Harvest” (2017)
Discussant: George Mendeluk (director and producer)
What happens when government officials engineer famine as punishment for resistance? The resistance grows hungrier. Based on Joseph Stalin’s “Holodomor,” a man-made famine enforced throughout Ukraine during the 1930s, “Bitter Harvest” tells the story of two lovers in the midst of national crisis who fight for each other and for their freedom.
Oct. 13: Filmworks: “Lucky” (2017)
A 90-year-old atheist named Lucky goes on a journey of self-exploration and spirituality after outliving all his companions. Along the way, Lucky is left to ponder and consider mortality, loneliness, spirituality and human connection.
Oct. 20: “Frame by Frame” (2015)
Discussant: Farzana Wahidy (photographer featured in the film)
Four Afghan photojournalists pave the way for free press after years of Taliban control. Secret photographs, interviews and footage reminds the outside world of the true terror faced by the Afghan people.
Oct. 27: “Nowhere to Hide” (2016)
Discussant: Zaradasht Ahmed (director and writer)
After being given a camera to film his life in 2011, Nori Sharif, an Iraqi hospital nurse spends five years capturing his own reality in heavily occupied Jalawla, Iraq. Two years into filming, more of his companions flee as the city grows increasingly dangerous. Sharif faces the difficult decision of remaining to help or fleeing for the safety of his family.
“It tells the story of the Iraqi people from a human point of view,” Husain said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this film is selected as a nomination for an Oscar this year.”
Nov. 3: “Menashe” (2017)
Discussant: Joshua Weinstein (director)
Set in New York’s ultraorthodox Hasidic Jewish community, Menashe, a grocery store clerk, struggles to make ends meet and responsibly parent his son, Rieven, following the death of his wife, Leah. Tradition prohibits Menashe from raising his son alone, so Rieven’s strict uncle adopts him, leaving Menashe heartbroken. Menashe’s rabbi grants him one week with Rieven before Leah’s memorial. It is his chance to prove himself a suitable man of faith and a responsible father.
*Nov. 10-12: (10-10 Veteran’s Day) Filmworks/Festival
Nov. 17: “Footnotes (Sur quel pied danser…)” (2016)
Discussants: Paul Calori & Kostia Testut (co-directors/writers)
A whimsical musical comedy that tells the story of Julie, a young woman who might land a steady job in a luxury shoe factory. When the possibility of the shoe factory closing and its jobs being sent overseas arises, Julie has to decide between her livelihood and her life. Will she stand with her striking coworkers or follow her boss? What is more important: a permanent job or her future?
“I describe this as somewhat of a French ‘La La Land,’” said Husain. “It’s about globalization, the owner’s want to outsource and the women who organize to save their job and save their factory.”
Dec. 1: “Evolution of Organic” (2016)
Discussant: Mark Kitchell (director)
Directed by Mark Kitchell, “Evolution of Organic” is the story of organic agriculture, told by spiritual seekers and the sons and daughters of farmers who built the organic movement in California. It is a heartfelt journey of change: from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation in the way we grow and eat food. “Evolution of Organic” is not just history, but a look into an exciting and critical future.
*Dec. 8: Filmworks: to be announced