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Worcester Community Cinema to Tackle Social Issues In Film Series

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

 

Community Cinema, a national documentary screening designed to promote community engagement, is coming to Worcester beginning January 31st with a screening of Byron Hurt's "Soul Food Junkies" at Clark University.

Community Cinema is a program created by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and is sponsored locally by the N-CITE Media Collective. The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday in Jefferson Room 218 at 950 Main Street in Worcester, and the event is free and open to the public. The viewing will be followed by a Q&A session to engage the public about the issues raised in the film.

Now in its fifteenth year of existence, ITVS' flagship community outreach program Community Cinema offers free monthly showings of films from the Emmy-award winning PBS series Independent Lens in over 95 cities across America. ITVS brings together important local organizations, members of the community, and public television stations to discuss and learn about the most important social issues of our time. The showings are followed by panel discussions.

"Through Community Engagement Campaigns in support of groundbreaking, independent films, our innovative educational product ITVS Community Classroom and our flagship community outreach program Community Cinema, ITVS Community works to bring communities together and connect them with information, resources and opportunities for education, engagement and positive change," says the ITVS Community organization of their mission.

This mission is perfectly aligned with that of N-CITE, a Media Collective that works with urban youth to create alternative media spaces to combat the dominant narratives presented in the mainstream media, according to Eric DeMeulenaere of N-Cite.

"We work to provoke critical dialogue about issues affecting the lives of individuals living in our urban neighborhoods in Worcester. The films in our film series address issues related to race, health, sexism, environmental justice and more. We use these films to launch community dialogues about how these larger national/global issues are being confronted, thought about and addressed right here in Worcester," he says.

Byron Hurt's film fits perfectly into this dialogue, taking on the issue of the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity, and in the meantime, raising questions about health and cultural authenticity. Hurt’s exploration was inspired by his father’s lifelong love affair with the high-fat, calorie-rich traditional soul food diet and his unwillingness to give it up even in the face of a life-threatening health crisis. Hurt discovers that the relationship between African Americans and culinary dishes like ribs, grits, and fried chicken is culturally-based, deep-rooted, complex, and often deadly. The film also explores the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods that often make it difficult to find healthier food options and the efforts currently going on to confront this problem.

"These are fundamental questions about how we should live in our world today," says DeMeulenaere.

"We hope people have fun coming out and enjoying an engaging cultural event with a wonderful firm and with food, music, poetry, and an engaging community dialogue. But we also believe that these films will raise questions and we hope that people leave thinking differently and having learned more about their community and their relationship to their community."

Before the screening refreshments will be available for purchase. The event will be opened with a poetry reading by Lulu Moyo.  A panel presentation and audience dialogue will follow facilitated by Angelique Webster and including Anthony Gardner, the REC’s Farmers Market Manager; Sherar Andalcio, MS IV, UMASS Medical School, and Rob Ramirez, Food Art by Rob. 

Six total films will be being aired, one each month through June, in the same room at Clark. The film for February is The Powerbroker, which will be used to discuss fundamental questions about the nature and role of anti-racist work in the age of Obama.

For more information or to RSVP, visit Facebook

 

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