Curriculum

Girl Talk Film Series

The following are the films that were screened in the first two 8 week cycles of 2011.

Films

Real Women Have Curves– This is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman. She lives in the predominately Latino community of East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, Ana receives a full scholarship to Columbia University. Her very traditional, old-world parents feel that now is the time for Ana to help provide for the family, not the time for college. Torn between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage she agrees to work with her mother at her sister’s downtown LA sewing factory. Over the summer she learns to admire the hardworking team of women who teach her solidarity and teamwork. Still at odds with what her mother expects of her, Ana realizes that leaving home to continue her education is essential to finding her place proudly in the world as an American and Chicana.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-The movie is based on the young adult book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Anne Brashares. As four best friends spend their first summer apart from one another, they share a magical pair of jeans. Despite being of various shapes and sizes, each one of them fits perfectly into the pants. To keep in touch they pass these pants to each other as well as the adventures they are going through while apart.

Whale Rider-On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea’s direct descendants. Pai, an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal New Zealand tribe, believes she is destined to be the new chief. But her grandfather Koro is bound by tradition to pick a male leader. Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny.

Akeelah & The Bee-Eleven year-old Akeelah Anderson’s life is not easy: her father is dead, her mom ignores her, her brother runs with the local gangbangers. She’s smart, but her environment threatens to strangle her aspirations. Responding to a threat by her school’s principal, Akeelah participates in a spelling bee to avoid detention for her many absences. Much to her surprise and embarrassment, she wins. Her principal asks her to seek coaching from an English professor named Dr. Larabee for the more prestigious regional bee. As the possibility of making it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee looms, Akeelah could provide her community with someone to rally around and be proud of — but only if she can overcome her insecurities and her distracting home life. She also must get past Dr. Larabee’s demons, and a field of more experienced and privileged fellow spellers.

Quinceanera– Magdalena is 14 and anxiously awaiting her 15th birthday where she’ll celebrate her quinceanara. Her world starts to crumble when she discovers her pregnancy after not being able to fit in her gown for her quinceanara. Soon, she’s kicked out of her home, abandoned by her family, and abandoned by her baby’s father. Magdalena is then taken in by her great-granduncle, Tomas and her gay, often-in-trouble cousin, Carlos. There she finds a new family and life.

Ruby Bridges- This well-conceived made-for-television Disney movie brings the pain and difficulty of desegregation to life for a generation of kids to whom the 1960s is ancient history. Young Chaz Monet plays Ruby, who in real life walked up those Southern school steps with armed guards barely shielding her from the hate-filled epithets white adults hurled at her as she single-handedly desegregated the institution. Penelope Ann Miller plays her Yankee teacher–actually a tutor, since no white kids will share her classroom. Kevin Pollak plays the psychiatrist who donates his time to help her deal with the trauma, but won’t eat her mother’s food. This 89-minute film offers surprisingly complex portraits of many of the adult characters and an admirably frank look at the less-than-positive reaction from her own community. Even her father (Michael Beach) waivers in resolution, especially when his white boss fires him. Superior acting, writing, and production mark this look at one of the uglier periods in American social history and the little girl who helped the country take a giant step in the right direction.

Crooklyn- Spike Lee’s semiautobiographical, 1994 film about the good and bad times for a Brooklyn family in the ’70s has passion and nostalgic good feeling, but it is also a mess of random reflections and arbitrary storytelling. The centerpiece of the movie is a little girl (Zelda Harris) who views the ups and downs of her parents’ experiences (mom and dad are played by Delroy Lindo and Alfre Woodard), and who navigates the life of her neighborhood

Eve’s Bayou-Actress Kasi Lemmons made an auspicious debut as a writer and director with this delicately handled, wrenchingly emotional drama, hailed by critic Roger Ebert as one of the best films of 1997. Eve’s Bayou begins with ominous narration: “The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old.” From that point the story moves backward in time and memory to Louisiana in 1962, when a young girl named Eve (Jurnee Smollett) witnesses a shocking act on the part of her womanizing father (Samuel L. Jackson). But what really happened? And can Eve be certain about what she saw when there is more than one interpretation of the facts? Less a mystery than a study of deeply rooted emotions rising to the surface to affect an entire family, the film has the quality of classic Southern literature, with layers of memory unfolding to reveal a carefully guarded truth.

Girl Talk created a curriculum that includes a series of activities to accompany these film screenings. A copy of the curriculum can be accessed for free by registering HERE.

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