DFS winter film series celebrates female empowerment in cinema

by Zach Cherian | 1/12/17 12:00am

Continuing this Friday, the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ and the Dartmouth Film Society present their winter film series, which includes Oscar-worthy films, heartwrenching documentaries and — perhaps a little more unconventionally — exhibitions of live birds.

Given the plethora of possible award-winning films and the limited number of spots for programming, Johanna Evans ’10, the Hop’s manager of film, said that winter term is usually an exciting time for film because of its proximity to the Academy Awards.

“All the best stuff in cinema comes out around end of November, early December, and that’s all stuff we can get throughout the winter term,” Evans said.

Evans also noted that 2016 saw at least one overwhelmingly positive change: more women starring in leading, multifaceted roles in Hollywood. This observation was the basis of the theme for the Hop’s winter series.

“We revived a series that we did two years ago called ‘Hear Me Roar’ — [now] it’s like ‘Hear me Roar 2.0,’” Evans said.

The “Hear Me Roar” series focuses on cinema that is directed by or stars women in powerful, authentic roles and ranges from international documentaries such as “Sonita” and “The Eagle Huntress” to notable performances like Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie.”

Evans works with students involved with the DFS when selecting the theme for the term. Kevin Patterson ’17, the president of the Dartmouth Film Society, said that the group has around 20 members.

“Most of [the DFS members are] on the younger side of the Dartmouth spectrum,” Patterson noted.

Patterson said that as the Hood Museum of Art continues to be renovated, DFS members convene in Collis Center each week over dinner to discuss both recent screenings at the Hop as well as the latest and greatest from Netflix.

DFS members greeted the winter film series with great enthusiasm.

“It’s a really solid lineup, and all of the films are praised by critics,” Christina Lu ’20, a DFS member, said. “We have a couple of films that are international ones that are excellent.”

The members of DFS voted on the films that would be included in the film series, Lu said.

“I think people are going to be very excited about ‘The Eagle Huntress,’” Evans said.

“The Eagle Huntress” is a documentary that focuses on a Mongolian girl who participates in a sport called “eagle hunting,” in which people train eagles to capture food and exhibit them in competition.

Evans said that the film was particularly noteworthy because it demonstrates the harsh conditions of Mongolia and features real eagles.

“Even in documentaries sometimes, if the lighting didn’t work out, they might refilm clips or interviews,” Evans said. “You can’t do that with a live bird, you have got to get it right the first time.”

In addition, an exhibition after the screening includes an appearance by a live hawk.

Evans suspects that “Moonlight,” which will be screened on Feb. 17, will be a fan favorite, especially since the members of the Hop unanimously chose the film as their favorite in the series, she said.

The Hop team also has a special connection to the film’s director, Barry Jenkins, who they met during their trip to the internationally-renowned Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. After seeing the festival’s screening of “Moonlight,” the team serendipitously ran into Jenkins on their way home.

“[Jenkins] ended up being in the Denver [International] Airport with us while we were flying out of the festival, and we had three hours to hang out with [Jenkins] and talk about his film,” Evans said.

The DFS winter film series, which began on Jan. 6, continues on Jan. 13 with a screening of “The Handmaiden” at 7 p.m. in Loew Auditorium. Other notable films in the series include “Arrival, “Elle,” and “Edge of Seventeen.”