Human Rights Film Series: A Separation

Jamie Biggs
  Staff Writer

On Thursday, Sep. 29, the Academy Award-winning film, “A Separation,” was shown in the School of Education building. The film follows the story of members of the Iranian society, post 1979 Iranian revolution.


The showing of “A Separation” was a part of the Human Rights Film Series, currently taking place at UNCG. The film series itself, is in partnership with the War and Peace Imagined Project — an ongoing effort throughout UNCG and the triad to incorporate themes of war and peace in the arts — in honor of the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.


In addition to the films being shown, UNCG is putting hosting a myriad of events in honor of the 100th anniversary, such as hosting a variety of different authors and artists. These events revolving around 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, were created in order to engage UNCG and the greater Greensboro community in media highlighting the cultural and historical elements present pre-World World War I; and what this means today in the present.


The Human Rights Film Series consists of four films which seek to interrogate these cultural and historical elements. The first film the Human Rights Film Series, which has passed, was: “Watchers of the Sky,” which dealt with the life of Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide.


Two more films are scheduled to be shown as a part of this series in the coming months. Before each film begins, one of the film series organizers gives an introduction, and after the movies ends, a group discussion ensues.

Prior to viewing “A Separation,” UNCG’s history professor, Jeff Jones, gave a brief description of the film, and encouraged the audience to pay attention to subtle details communicating what the movie intends to implicitly portray. Jones stressed that the surface of the film was entertaining in its’ own right, but that beneath the surface, viewers should be able to find a deeper meaning.


As expected, the film’s central theme was about the expression of human rights. Characters in “A Separation,” were shown to struggle within their social classes, religion, values and their reputations. Taking place in Iran, the subtitles across the screen kept viewers engaged as they read, perhaps even more so than English-speaking movies have the ability to do. Ultimately, “A Separation” provided a unique critique of modern Iranian society, which allowed viewers a glimpse into their complexities of Iranian life and society.


After the film ended, Jones returned to the front of the room, to involve viewers in discussion. Accompanied with a brief PowerPoint presentation on the screen in order to guide the discussion, he led with some thoughts of his own regarding the film, then immediately invited members of the audience to voice their opinions of the film.


While departing from a room the second a film ends is the typical manner in which people view movies, the decision to host a discussion afterwards, allowed for viewers to have a better understanding of the film.


Viewers openly expressed their ideas and opinions on “A Separation,” while Jones led the discussion attentively, and responded to people’s’ thoughts, with his own interpretations.


He also welcomed people to ask questions about the film. As the film was complex, many felt as though that it needed to be pieced together like a puzzle in order to be understood. As such, Jones was helpful in clarifying aspects of the film that people did not understand.


After the short discussion, refreshments were provided outside the auditorium-style classroom for the film-goers; which also allowed time for any who desired further conversation about the film.


The two films left in the film series are: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” on Oct. 20, and “The Look of Silence,” on Nov. 20. They, too, will deal with the theme of human rights. Both films will be shown in the School of Education building, at 6:30 p.m. in room 120.


The films are available not only to students and staff of UNCG, but the public as well. The remaining post film discussions will occur after each film, and will be led by a UNCG faculty member. All films are free of charge.

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