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The Scarlet & Black

Foreign films expand horizons

Members of the Foreign Films Club enjoy a movie screening.
Members of the Foreign Films Club enjoy a movie screening.

For a few hours every Monday and Wednesday night, a classroom in Bucksbaum becomes a place to experience a variety of movies from around the world.

The films shown range from Russian tragedies to Chinese comedies and everything in between. Every week, a movie that would normally be shown in an independent film festival is showcased and discussed by a group of students from a variety of backgrounds. This provides each student who attends the club an opportunity to examine the differences and similarities found in movies from different countries.

“By showing these films, we can celebrate the diversity found here on the campus. I have friends who are international students. Here they can show part of their culture to others,” said Andrew Larson ’16.

Larson—one of the founders of the club—was motivated by a desire to do something both enjoyable and beneficial for the campus. With this idea in mind and with a desire to expand his horizons regarding culture and movies, he set out to create his own club.

“This club started as East Asian film club last semester, because most of the movies I knew about where mainly from China, Russia and Korea,” Larson said. “But this year, Agustin [Molina ’16] started to help out more and we were able to include movies from South America and Europe.”

This club provides the opportunity to show Grinnellians different media representations of cultures from all over the world.

“Last week, we viewed a movie about a specific ethnic group in Russia. We were able to see their marriage rituals and their death ceremonies. They were quite different from the ones here in America,” Larson said.

Foreign films provide opportunities to experience another culture. Through them, one is able to experience what the Chinese might find funny or what the Russians consider depressing. This gives an insider view to the minds of people in distant lands.

In addition to presenting diverse viewpoints, the club also questions the dominant norms of American cinema.

“There are certain topics that Americans will not address in movies that other cultures will. For example, in a Chinese film you will see them address religion and it’s no big deal, it’s part of the culture … that does not happen here in America,” Molina said.

By being able to watch films from a variety of cultures, members of this club have the chance to open themselves and question what human traits and emotions transcend cultures and how all are differently expressed. They are able to learn how directors from disparate backgrounds can connect with the viewer on a personal level.

Students who want to be immersed in cultures from all over the world should come to Foreign Films Club on Monday and Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. in Bucksbaum 242.

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