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Friday October 20, 2000

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Feminist film screenings begin tonight

By Maggie Burnett

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Women's Studies department to host weekend-long independent film fest

A free film festival hosted by the UA women's studies and media arts departments will begin tonight as a part of the first "The Future of Women's Studies" conference.

The screenings will be hosted by Women Make Movies, a national non-profit feminist media arts organization and the largest distributor of women's media in North America.

Women's studies department head Elizabeth Kennedy said that a natural tie between the two departments already exists.

"We're really trying to keep art and scholarship more integrated, which is one of our goals for the 25th anniversary," Kennedy said. "I think it will help people see a more integrated relationship between creative arts, film and scholarship."

The University of Arizona media arts department was put in charge of picking the female-produced and directed films to be shown and organizing them according to conference topics.

"We sat down and made lists of movies of what they had to offer from their (Women Make Movies) catalogue and then picking what would be apropos with the conference itself," said assistant professor of media arts Beretta Smith-Shomade, whose teaching emphasis deals with representations of women, race, sexuality and ethnicity.

"I think film is a good way to illustrate particular aspects of women's studies. They are a phenomena in and of themselves," she said.

The screenings will take place today and tomorrow, and are intertwined with various other speaker and workshop sessions celebrating the 25th anniversary of the UA women's studies department.

"Because this is such celebration, it seemed nice to enhance it with cultural events," Kennedy said. "Movies are a nice way to do that. They reach a broader audience."

Among the movies shown will be "Nappy," a short film looking at the complex relationship between black women and western ideals of beauty, "Artist," a fast-paced journey through Hollywood depictions of the artist and "The Righteous Babes," a movie exploring the intersection of feminism and popular music.

Although the UA frequently holds film festivals on campus, never before has a film festival devoted just to women been created.

"I have suggested that this (film festival) would be a good opportunity to start thinking of an annual or bi-annual women's film festival," Kennedy said.

Kennedy added that Northern Arizona University has already implemented a women's film series into their curriculum which runs throughout the course of the year.

Both Kennedy and Smith-Shomade said they hoped the films shown could be implemented in teaching curricula as well.

"We're hoping they (films) can stimulate conversations we will have at the conference," Smith-Shomade said. "Hopefully people can take the different films that we show and use them in their classrooms."