Diversity films provide new outlook

by Jennifer Parsons
Staff Writer

Out of her love for movies, Catherine Henley-Erickson, professor of English and film critic for the Claremont Courier, has begun a film series based on diversity.

“I remember when I was a child in Westchester [Calif.], there were two movie theaters and I would ride my bike down to one of them and pay nine cents to see a movie,” said Henley-Erickson.

Each film covers several diversity issues, and is shown in ascending order of importance based on what cultural awareness issue is being commemorated that week.

“Grand Canyon” was shown Feb. 20 during Black History Month, followed by “Passion Fish” on March 15 during Women’s History Month. “Baghdad Cafe” will be presented April 10, coinciding with International Student Celebration week followed by “The Wedding Banquet” April 24. The final film of the series is “Mi Familia,” that will be shown May 8 during the Latino Arts Festival.

“Films entertain and take you places you couldn’t go otherwise. They show you parts of life you’re not familiar with. They are really good educational tools and the ones chosen for this series present issues that students can relate to,” said Henley-Erickson.

Following the films are presentations of panelists who speak about each issue presented. One faculty or staff member, a student representative and an off-campus member is what Henley-Erickson hopes each panel will consist of.

Dr. Roswitha Brooks, professor of languages, who was born in Germany and is involved with the international students, will be a panelist for “Baghdad Cafe.”

Also, Dr. Sharon Davis, professor of sociology, and Don Pollock, associate professor of communications, will be members of one of the panels.

“I like to choose panelists who are thoughtful and reflective. There is no need for them to be experts on diversity,” said Henley-Erickson.

Her first film series, “Politics and Popcorn,” shown Sept. 26 through Nov. 21, began by presenting presidential candidate issues, moved into sitting presidential issues and was geared towards the English class she was teaching. The films shown were “The Candidate,” “Bob Roberts,” “The War Room,” “Dave,” and “The American President.”

Funds for the political film series were received from the Department of Modern Languages, the President’s Office, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the History/Political Science Department.

After the first series of films were completed, Henley- Erickson learned that the Irvine Foundation was receiving submissions of proposals from faculty and staff members for programs emphasizing diversity. She applied for the grant and received $1,000 that was used for the funding of her diversity film series.

In the future, Henley-Erickson hopes to do another film series on the Peace Corps program. Other ideas include addresses to specific cultures or gender issues.

Said Henley-Erickson, “I would like to do a series every semester. There are wonderful themes available. Funding the films is the problem.”

Presently, Henley-Erickson is in the process of developing a book that is a collection of movie reviews she has written for the Claremont Courier that will be categorized into issues. She describes it to be a “useful resource.”

“I hope that anyone who comes to a film might leave thinking about something they hadn’t realized before,” said Henley-Erickson.

Films are shown in La Fetra Auditorium, Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m.

Other Stories

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

Latest Stories

Related articles

Speaker explains the concept of privilege

Jeanette Royston, president of the NAACP of Pomona Valley, held a virtual event to discuss racial identity, issues of modern-day minority life, privilege and more Feb. 24 via Zoom.

Poetry reading caps off Black History Month celebration

Mwende “Free Quency” Katwiwa shared poetry portraying the plight of Black people in America as a part of the Campus Activities Board Black History Month celebration Monday via Zoom.

ULV women of color honored through Black Girls Rock

In honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the University’s office of Multicultural Affairs and Black Student Services hosted a “Black Girls Rock” awards event to honor Black women across the University,  with student, faculty and staff honorees. 

Activism at different levels discussed

Author and vocalist Rev. Charles Dorsey talked about the Black experience and challenged participants to be agents in disrupting oppression and white supremacy on Wednesday at the “We Got Problems: A Conversation about Overcoming Limitations and Embracing Your Power” lecture held via Zoom an hosted by the University of La Verne’s Brothers’ Forum.