Homosexuality, cartels, 9/11, abortion, afterlife and the Holocaust are just some of the film topics this year at the International Film Series at UNC. Nobody walked out, nobody debated seriously and controversy was absent.
According to the student director of the International Film Series, Zachary Rae, UNC is a fairly open community, and the audience reflects that. Because of that openness, there was no controversy; instead there was acceptance.
One film that was shown this semester that pushed the boundaries was “Undertow,” a movie about a man who is torn between his pregnant wife and his male lover.
Perhaps this semester there was no controversy to talk about, but in previous semesters there may be. In the fall of 2010 the film “She’s a Body I Knew,” which is about a man’s transition into becoming a woman, was shown and a lot of people around the world are usually uneasy when it comes to these issues, but instead everyone at the screening was curious and just asked questions; when some may consider the changing of gender an abomination. The film was presented alongside the International Film Series with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Alliance group on campus, who said that in the future they want to have a police officer at the screenings of films such as “She’s a Body I Knew,” just because of the topic, and the controversy that can come out of it. This alone is some proof as to how powerful film can be, and how it invokes the mind to question.
When it comes to movies like “She’s a Body I Knew,” I find that more people have questions rather than insults because most people are curious. That’s why there are so many shows on TV that bring people into the lives of those who are “different,” because it eliminates all the stares from people when in public for the most part. Screening such films allows audiences to get all questions out of the way, and makes room for understanding.
But, beyond films about gender, there are films like “The Cove,” which was shown in the spring of 2010 at the International Film Series. This film talked about the killing of dolphins for meat, and even showed graphic images of dolphins being killed. Nobody walked out, but the film was talked about, and is still being talked about today according to Rae.
Then there are documentaries such as “Hunger,” which was shown in spring 2010 as well. This movie showed the Irish Republican Army militants engage in a series of “dirty” protests against British authorities in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland. On the International Film Series site for UNC, the film description for “Hunger” warns people, “’Hunger’ is brutal: its story is heart-rending, its imagery stomach-turning. Despite its grim tone, viewers shouldn't miss this challenging examination of the complex links between politics and terrorism.” I personally went to this screening, and the warning was spot-on. The film was graphic and showed the downward spiral of people dying and doing things most would never imagine doing.
The human condition is what films like “Hunger” portray, one life going against the other, struggling to see who is right and who is wrong. That is where the controversy lies, though even with this film, nobody walked out, and nobody debated.
Even though these films have controversy within them, that doesn’t mean there will be controversy, but there is always that slight chance.
Without controversy, there are no debates, and there lies the problem.
Amber Kazmierski is a senior journalism major.