Newcomb Film Series explores new facets of female empowerment

Heather Andelsman, Staff Reporter

There are plenty of strong feminist role models out there that prove women can do anything, and as feminism continues to increase in popularity so do the opportunities to learn more about it. If you’re still trying to figure out how to emulate your favorite feminist icon, the Newcomb Feminist Film Series presents screenings of lesser-known films that showcase leadership within everyday women.

The series is part of the Newcomb College Institute, whose mission is to educate undergraduate women for leadership in the 21st century. The purpose of the film series, which started in 2011, is to provide women both on campus and in the community with unique, intimate stories that are not largely publicized.

“It gives a venue for films that aren’t otherwise screened in theaters,” NCI Administrative Assistant Professor Aidan Smith said. “There’s the feminist perspective on presenting films that are telling stories that aren’t necessarily part of either popular culture or that would be perceived as having a wide audience.”

The films can be documentaries, feature films or short films, and screen three to four times a semester, sometimes along with presentations from the filmmakers themselves. The stories are chosen to connect to historical moments that may be prominent at a certain time or to add to conversations already being held worldwide. Last year, in April 2015, the film series ran the first screening in the nation of “The Hunting Ground,” a film about sexual assault on campus.

“We were in conversation with the filmmaker and the producer to really say sexual assault is an issue that we’re committed to talking about, and we had student activists that were really engaged in bringing that story to the Tulane community,” Smith said.

The film series often co-sponsors films with student organizations as well as individual students. “The Hunting Ground” screening was co-sponsored with Tulane Hillel and last fall, “India’s Daughter,” a film about gang rape in India that caused an international outrage, was co-sponsored with Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline & Education.

“We are always looking for insight from students,” Smith said. “If there are films that they’re very passionate about and want to see screened in the community, we’re always open to suggestions. We’d love to think about how we could get a student group organized around working with the film series as well as thinking about film and women.”

“Living Thinkers” screens at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Woldenberg Art Center as a way to bring attention to both Black History Month and the upcoming Women’s History Month. The movie tells the stories of black women that grew up to be university professors and the challenges that they’ve faced throughout their lives.

“Film is one of our more accessible mediums, both for students and for the community,” Smith said. “So when we present the stories of women who are leaders in their community, it’s really enabling us to tell stories that will bring that leadership to the fore.”