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Beyond War and Politics and Religion: St. Ambrose Presents the Middle Eastern Film Festival, October 15 through 24 PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 02 October 2014 06:00

Zero MotivationSt. Ambrose University’s educational initiative the Middle East Institute (MEI), which just began its first school-calendar year of programming, was designed to foster discussion and study of this frequently misunderstood and geopolitically critical region. And as institute director Ryan Dye says, when it came time to create an event schedule for the MEI’s fall semester, “I consulted with our fine-arts department, and they were really excited about the idea of doing a film festival.”

Through the art department’s Clea Felien, Dye was put in contact with Ghen Zando-Dennis, a cinema-studies professor at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. An Alaska native and occasional filmmaker herself, Zando-Dennis teaches a course in Middle Eastern films at Ramapo and was eager to curate the MEI’s event. Zando-Dennis admits, however, that the curator position did come with a challenge for her.

“I didn’t want to show work just because it’s from this place we regard as ‘the Middle East,’” she says. “I didn’t want anyone to come away from it thinking it was a kind of survey, in any sense of the imagination, of Middle Eastern media art. And yet I’m programming a film festival that’s called ‘the Middle Eastern Film Festival.’ So that’s tricky.”

 
Parrots and Cats and a Pageant for Bunnies: "Video Art from Israel," May 4 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 06:00

The Days of the Family of the BellOn May 4, in an event co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, the Figge Art Museum will host the screenings of a feature-length documentary and seven shorter works, all of them by award-winning Israeli filmmakers. Yet if the you enter the Video Art from Israel: A One-Day Sensory Experience presentation with preconceived notions about the films’ collective subject matter – anticipating explorations of Israel’s foreign policy, say, or the country’s ongoing struggle with Palestine – you’re likely to be in for a surprise or two. Or eight.

 
The End of the Oscar Racists. Er … Races.: Notes on the 2014 Academy Awards Telecast PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 03 March 2014 13:51

producer/director Steve McQueen and team members from Best Picture 12 Years a SlaveLast night, at the tail end of her opening monologue, Academy Awards emcee Ellen DeGeneres took a moment to acknowledge the year's tight race for Best Picture, and stated that “anything can happen” regarding the evening's biggest prize. “Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture,” she said. “Possibility number two: You're all racists.”

Which, it turned out, was a possibility voters were not willing to face.

 
Voting Like a Voter: Predicting, and Preferring, the 2014 Academy Award Winners PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 06:00

Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a SlaveWhen it comes to the films and individuals that win Academy Awards, it’s easy to get defensive, and even a little pissy, about voters’ collective choices. “How could those people ever vote for ______,” you find yourself asking, “when ______ is so obviously better? Don’t they have any integrity at all?!”

 
The 2014 Academy Award Nominees PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:37

(For information on where to find the Academy Award nominees, click here.)

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams in American HustleThe big shock of this morning’s announcement of nominees for the 86th Annual Academy Awards? The almost complete lack of shocks, especially given such an insanely competitive year.

 
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