The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Feminist film festival sparks conversation

This week, the Gender Studies Department hosted their second annual feminist film festival which spanned four days. 

Sol Paez, an active affiliate of gender studies, inspired the gender studies department after she shared her experience at a previous university that hosted  successful feminist film festivals.

Emily Ryalls, professor of communication and Gender Studies at MSU, said throughout her career, she has witnessed the power of film on students, and the festival strives to generate important conversations amongst students.

“I hope that we are able to choose films that generate much needed conversations about race, gender, sexuality and transgender issues,” Ryalls said. 

Each night, after the showing of a film, the gender student department carves out a time where the audience can comment on the film and ask questions. The department handpicks knowledgeable experts who aim to facilitate discussion about the film that has been showed. 

The experts present relevant facts or statistics about the film. This encourages students to think critically about the film, and prompts them to ask thought provoking questions and receive answers from people they may not otherwise have access to. 

When choosing which films to show during the festival, the department has certain criteria they follow. Each year, one of the films is either a foreign language film or a film that deals with issues in other countries. 

This year, the department chose several movies including “Señorita Extraviada,” a chilling documentary about the rape and murder of over 270 women in Jauárez, Mexico. 

In addition to a foreign language film, Ryalls said she prefers to choose films that deal with youth and adolescence. On Tuesday, the department presented, “The Magdalene Sisters,” a  riveting motion picture based off true events that tells the story of three young Irish women struggling to find themselves while they endure physical and sexual abuse as inmates of the Magdalene Sisters Asylum. 

The department then opens it up to the affiliated faculty in hopes of bringing up issues they find important and are asked to serve on the panel for the discussion following the film. 

Peyton Wardlaw, junior public relations major, said she attended two films this week, “The Magdalene Sisters” and Wednesday’s film “Lady Valor,” the true story of former U.S. Navy SEAL, Christopher Beck, who begins a challenging mission as she starts her life as a transgender woman by the name of Kristen Beck. 

“If it had not been for the film fest, I may not have ever watched these movies,” Wardlaw said. “The films I have watched opened my eyes to situations and events that I previously had little understanding of.” 

The feminist film fest concludes this evening with the showing of “Friday Night Lights.” 

Ryalls said many students have questioned “Friday Night Lights” as a feminist film, but it is relevant to spark discussion about gender studies. 

“A film doesn’t have to be feminist to generate a feminist conversation. The goal is to think critically about films,” Ryalls said. 

Tonight’s film will be shown at 6 p.m. in Allen Hall, room 13.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Feminist film festival sparks conversation