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Film Series wraps up with focus on Latinx culture

Posted: October 23 2023 at 04:20 AM
Author: Lisa Smith, NIC Communications Specialist

The Northern Illinois Conference’s 2023 Anti-Racism Film Series seeks to “go deeper” in valuing and appreciating the rich history, culture, and experiences of the ethnic diversity within our conference. It uses films and documentaries, paired with presentations, to start discussions. Viewers gather for a meal, presentation, and small group discussion. (Others can watch the presentation and discussion via web conferencing.)

On Nov. 30, the final quarter of this year’s series will highlight Latinx culture.

Tim Alexander, chairman of the film series, says that the films shown so far this year have been well received, “The positive responses we have seen as a result of our evaluations show that folks have learned new details that will assist them in going deeper in their understanding of the roots of racism in America.”

The first quarter event was hosted at the Illinois Holocaust Museum with a docent-led tour of The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibit. YoFresh Café provided participants with a sampling of desserts historically associated with African American culture. Dr. Richard Guzman spoke about the representation of Blacks in film as well as the contrast between The Negro Motorist Green Book exhibit and the 2019 movie Green Book. Panelists then offered their thoughts on Black representation in film and the exhibit. 

Asian history and culture were the focus of the second quarter event. Before the gathering, participants were urged to watch the documentary Being Asian in America by Pew Research Center. Dr. Wonhee Anne Joh of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary gave a presentation, and NIC members participated in a panel discussion about their experiences of being Asian in America. Various Asian cultures were represented in the meal, which included Korean, Indian, and Filipino dishes.  

The Long Shadow documentary provided the basis for the discussion on privilege, power, and race for the third-quarter event. The director of the film, Frances Causey, talked about her experience making the film, and then participants divided into small groups for discussion. Most host sites provided soul food.  

“The Anti-Racism Film Series gave guests a platform for learning and discussing hard issues,” says Susan Wakefield Del Porto from Roselle UMC.  “The sharing of ideas and insights was the capstone of the events. Participants engaged in meaningful and transformative conversations about issues that people are often uncomfortable discussing.”

The fourth quarter presentation and discussion, scheduled for Nov. 30, will focus on Latinx cultures. The meals will feature the food of different Latin American nations. Rudolph Reyes II, instructor of Christian ethics and Latinx studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, will lead the presentation. Participants are encouraged to watch in advance the film The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of Latino Image. This 2002 documentary was directed and produced by Susan Racho, and Alberto Dominguez.  

“Using The Bronze Screen, we will explore an aspect of racism that is often overlooked, though it has often been embedded in the films we have watched since childhood,” Alexander says. “The films mentioned don’t appear racist when watched for pure entertainment but the backstories of how they were made and the subtle racism that took place between the stars and the producers/directors are informative.”

As with the other presentations, viewers can participate online, after the meal, at 6:45 p.m.

Learn more about the upcoming event and watch recordings of the previous events here.

Find out more information about the fourth quarter event and register

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