Tziona Breitbart ’16
Assistant News Editor
Last Sunday, Smith College held the first Five College Film Studies Undergraduate Conference. 12 students from the Five Colleges presented original papers on the topics of gender and sexuality, Indian cinema, genre and 9/11 and film and language.
The conference was organized by Professor Jennifer Malkowski of Smith College and Professor Ken Eisenstein of Mount Holyoke College, and sponsored by the film studies programs of Smith College and Mount Holyoke College as well as the Five College Film Council.
“Getting film studies going at a small college is a long hard journey,” said Malkowski. “The quality of the students’ work wonderfully showcases how far we’ve come with film studies at the Five Colleges.”
Eisenstein added that the Film Studies program has been steadily growing in the Valley over the past couple of years.
For the conference, students analyzed various films in order to write their papers. During the panels, each student had 15 minutes to formally present their research, then participated in a Q&A session with the audience.
The first panel discussed gender and sexuality at the movies. Panelists included Calla Johnson ’16 from Smith College, Emily Drummer from Hampshire College, Tim Kovolenko from Hampshire College and Jamie A. Tehophilos from Mount Holyoke College.
Johnson examined empowering masculinity by using Fight Club and Drive as her prime examples. Drummer’s paper discussed women as usherettes in movies, using archival practices to uncover information and analyzing sources such as the Diary of an Usherette. Kovolenko’s paper was titled “Porn, Art, Parody, and the Possibility of a Queer Aesthetic: Situating Bruce LaBruce’s Super 8 ½.”
The second panel was titled “Indian Cinema: Bollywood’s Borders,” and panelists included Ruth Isserman ’13 from Smith College and Sukriti Singh from Mount Holyoke College.
Isserman focused on Weimar Bollywood and studied cross-cultural cinema and discussion in early Indian Film. For her research, she also used silent films and India and Bombay talkies to explore her topic. Singh’s paper was titled “Guru Dutt: A Thoroughly Self-Centered Conversation with the Spectator.”
After a refreshments break, the audience reconvened for the third panel, titled “Film Genres Pre- and Post-9/11.” Kelsey Cummings ’13 discussed violence in post-9/11 superhero films while Liliana Farrell ’13 studied film representations of teen suicide in a paper titled, “My Teen Angst Bullshit Has a Body Count: Depictions of Teen Suicide Before and After 2000.”
The convention ended with the panel, “Film and Language: Over and Out.” The panel included Jeffrey Moro from Amherst College, Erica Moulton from Mount Holyoke College, Rahmah Mohamad Pauzi from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Alice Wang from Amherst College.
Wang’s paper focused on deconstructing boundaries between political activism and art in the digital era. Pauzi titled his paper “Voicing Out and Not Voicing Out: Sensing the Presence of the Filmmaker through Voice-Overs in German Documentary Films” while Moro focused on Shakespeare and translation.