Cinema Series FAQ

  • Click on the blue tabs below to see information about the cinema series.
  • Movie dates, times, and trailers are below the FAQ box.
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  • MAGPS sponsors a cinema series, open to clinicians, spouses, & anyone interested in the application of psychological principles to our lives.
  • The mission of the series is to promote connection for MAGPS members between conferences, get the word out about our conferences, provide stimulating learning experiences on issues including, but not limited to, group, diversity, and ethics.
  • Each cinema series event includes a light dinner, a movie, and a lively discussion with a moderator.
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  • Light dinner: 5:45 PM - prepared by our own cinema series food committee (in context with the theme of the movie -- you will be surprised!)
  • Movie: 6:30 PM
Upcoming Presentations:  
  • 04/29/2017: Black Swan - Presenter: David Heilman, M.Psy.
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white-squareA $10 donation to cover the cost of food and drink is requested.

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white-square2.5 CEs (Continuing Education Credits) available for Professional Counselors, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psychologists for $25.white-square
white-squarePlease email cinema@magps.org and let us know how many will be attending white-square
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  • The home of Lorraine and Dan Wodiska
  • 6014 28th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207
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white-squareDisclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product(s) discussed in this educational presentation.white-square

Cinema Series Presentations

Cinema Series Interview: “Moonlight”

Nancy Hafkin Interviews Reginald Nettles about our upcoming

MAGPS Cinema Series film,  Moonlight

NH: Reggie, I am glad to have a chance to dialogue with you about the film you are presenting at our next Cinema Series.  The film has received high praise and has won significant awards in 2016:  Best Picture at Golden  Globes,  Academy Award for the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more.   The New York Times called it the “Best Film of the 21st Century.”  There are plenty of “firsts” for the movie,  as well. What do you make of the mistake made in the announcing of a different movie as the Academy Award winner — then the correction?

RN: This snafu could be interpreted in many ways.  Could it be that talking about a film that puts “homosexuality” at center stage could have generated anxiety in the presenters?  “Hot potato” as a metaphor comes to mind.  And this film also puts the stigmas of both racial minority and sexual orientation in the forefront.  Not only did we see the stages of a gay boy’s development into manhood, but we saw the effects of horrendous treatment of members of both groups laid bare before us in profound as well as subtle ways.

NH: Do you resonate with the awards and trail breaking nature of the film?

RN: Clearly the awards were well deserved.  I certainly resonate with aspects of this film.  For me,  the trail breaking nature of the film has more to do with the intersectionalities depicted than any of the depictions of particular identities.

NH:   What about as a trail breaker in terms of its subject? And what exactly do you mean by “intersectionalities?”

RN: It’s a trail breaker in terms of its subjects, plural; more than its subject, singular.  By intersectionalities I mean intersecting minority identities of same-gender sexuality and racial minority, in this instance, in the context of a particular element of African American culture. The contours of both identities are defined in part by stigma, prejudice, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and often, by resultant poverty.  There have been earlier films that dealt with combined Black and Gay identities (e.g., Looking for Langston; Brother to Brother),  so in that sense, this film gave us another glimpse of Black Gay life in the United States.  Moonlight differs from these films in that it shows Black Gay life among members of poor and drug infested communities.  And in Moonlight, we see developmental stages in Gay male identity in at least two of the characters.  That stages in development within culturally stigmatized identities were shown may be more “trail breaking” than other elements of this film.

NH: Given these Black and Gay intersecting identities in Moonlight do you have ideas about how understanding the characters could assist our membership in understanding ourselves and our clients?

RN: This question may be suggesting that  Black male identity and sexual identity among men can be separated.  Yet all men have “sexual identity.” Confusion often exists in dialogues about sexual (or gender) identity and sexual (or gender) orientation.  In Moonlight, we saw the intersection of minority racial and same-gender sexual orientation in the main characters.  We also saw many complexities of male identity among African-American men,  and a range of sexual orientations from apparently Straight to apparently Gay.  Homophobic reactions toward the latter were also clearly evident in mutually devastating ways.  This contrasted with the paternal love and nurturing of the apparently Gay boy by the apparently Straight Black male father figure, who was also a drug dealer.

Understanding these complexities, I believe, can assist all of us in understanding the complexities in the identities of the men (and women) with whom we work.  To the extent that we may be blinded by the surrounding cultural milieu, and then not see these complexities, is suggestive of the work we need to do on ourselves in order to optimally benefit our clients.  We must be able to see through all the stereotypes to reach and connect with the individuals with whom we work.

 NH: Would you agree with one reviewer who said the film is not relevant to a “Straight, White, middle-class” audience?

RH: To see Moonlight as not relevant to a “Straight, White, middle-class” audience speaks to a massive denial of the mutual relevance of these cultures.  In many ways,  Moonlight,  I believe, could have been set in almost any impoverished ghetto in the U.S. and beyond to other cultures affected by similar histories.  And, if we look historically, there is much to suggest the genesis of ghettoes in the U.S. to “Straight, White, middle-class” culture.

NH: What do you hope our membership will “take away” from the viewing and discussing of the film?

RN: First, I hope our membership will not take away an understanding that this is the totality of African-American culture.  Instead, I hope they will see the setting of Moonlight as one aspect of African-American culture.  At the cultural level,  I hope people will take away the importance of intersecting minority (e.g. sexual and racial minority) identities and the importance of recognizing both in their clients and perhaps themselves.

I also hope that members will recognize the complexities and the sensitivities of the characters involved.  Male identity is rendered more complex in the context of racism, stigma, prejudice and discrimination.  Recognizing the importance of these factors can,  hopefully,  help members recognize that we all have roles to play in the amelioration of the societal dilemmas shown in Moonlight.  And, as clinicians, we have much to offer if we can allow ourselves to embrace the totality of our clients.

NH: Thank you, Reggie.  I am looking forward to seeing the movie with you.

 

                           CINEMA SERIES presents CABARET
         Hosts:  Lorraine and Dan Wodiska            Dinner and visiting: 5:30
                     6014 28th St., North                        Film viewing:  6:15
                     Arlington, VA 22207                       Discussion & Dessert
                               A $10 contribution to cost of the food is requested
Please RSVP here if interested in attending.

 

Cinema Series Archive

Cinema Series Interview: “Moonlight”

Nancy Hafkin Interviews Reginald Nettles about our upcoming

MAGPS Cinema Series film,  Moonlight

NH: Reggie, I am glad to have a chance to dialogue with you about the film you are presenting at our next Cinema Series.  The film has received high praise and has won significant awards in 2016:  Best Picture at Golden  Globes,  Academy Award for the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more.   The New York Times called it the “Best Film of the 21st Century.”  There are plenty of “firsts” for the movie,  as well. What do you make of the mistake made in the announcing of a different movie as the Academy Award winner — then the correction?

RN: This snafu could be interpreted in many ways.  Could it be that talking about a film that puts “homosexuality” at center stage could have generated anxiety in the presenters?  “Hot potato” as a metaphor comes to mind.  And this film also puts the stigmas of both racial minority and sexual orientation in the forefront.  Not only did we see the stages of a gay boy’s development into manhood, but we saw the effects of horrendous treatment of members of both groups laid bare before us in profound as well as subtle ways.

NH: Do you resonate with the awards and trail breaking nature of the film?

RN: Clearly the awards were well deserved.  I certainly resonate with aspects of this film.  For me,  the trail breaking nature of the film has more to do with the intersectionalities depicted than any of the depictions of particular identities.

NH:   What about as a trail breaker in terms of its subject? And what exactly do you mean by “intersectionalities?”

RN: It’s a trail breaker in terms of its subjects, plural; more than its subject, singular.  By intersectionalities I mean intersecting minority identities of same-gender sexuality and racial minority, in this instance, in the context of a particular element of African American culture. The contours of both identities are defined in part by stigma, prejudice, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and often, by resultant poverty.  There have been earlier films that dealt with combined Black and Gay identities (e.g., Looking for Langston; Brother to Brother),  so in that sense, this film gave us another glimpse of Black Gay life in the United States.  Moonlight differs from these films in that it shows Black Gay life among members of poor and drug infested communities.  And in Moonlight, we see developmental stages in Gay male identity in at least two of the characters.  That stages in development within culturally stigmatized identities were shown may be more “trail breaking” than other elements of this film.

NH: Given these Black and Gay intersecting identities in Moonlight do you have ideas about how understanding the characters could assist our membership in understanding ourselves and our clients?

RN: This question may be suggesting that  Black male identity and sexual identity among men can be separated.  Yet all men have “sexual identity.” Confusion often exists in dialogues about sexual (or gender) identity and sexual (or gender) orientation.  In Moonlight, we saw the intersection of minority racial and same-gender sexual orientation in the main characters.  We also saw many complexities of male identity among African-American men,  and a range of sexual orientations from apparently Straight to apparently Gay.  Homophobic reactions toward the latter were also clearly evident in mutually devastating ways.  This contrasted with the paternal love and nurturing of the apparently Gay boy by the apparently Straight Black male father figure, who was also a drug dealer.

Understanding these complexities, I believe, can assist all of us in understanding the complexities in the identities of the men (and women) with whom we work.  To the extent that we may be blinded by the surrounding cultural milieu, and then not see these complexities, is suggestive of the work we need to do on ourselves in order to optimally benefit our clients.  We must be able to see through all the stereotypes to reach and connect with the individuals with whom we work.

 NH: Would you agree with one reviewer who said the film is not relevant to a “Straight, White, middle-class” audience?

RH: To see Moonlight as not relevant to a “Straight, White, middle-class” audience speaks to a massive denial of the mutual relevance of these cultures.  In many ways,  Moonlight,  I believe, could have been set in almost any impoverished ghetto in the U.S. and beyond to other cultures affected by similar histories.  And, if we look historically, there is much to suggest the genesis of ghettoes in the U.S. to “Straight, White, middle-class” culture.

NH: What do you hope our membership will “take away” from the viewing and discussing of the film?

RN: First, I hope our membership will not take away an understanding that this is the totality of African-American culture.  Instead, I hope they will see the setting of Moonlight as one aspect of African-American culture.  At the cultural level,  I hope people will take away the importance of intersecting minority (e.g. sexual and racial minority) identities and the importance of recognizing both in their clients and perhaps themselves.

I also hope that members will recognize the complexities and the sensitivities of the characters involved.  Male identity is rendered more complex in the context of racism, stigma, prejudice and discrimination.  Recognizing the importance of these factors can,  hopefully,  help members recognize that we all have roles to play in the amelioration of the societal dilemmas shown in Moonlight.  And, as clinicians, we have much to offer if we can allow ourselves to embrace the totality of our clients.

NH: Thank you, Reggie.  I am looking forward to seeing the movie with you.

 

                           CINEMA SERIES presents CABARET
         Hosts:  Lorraine and Dan Wodiska            Dinner and visiting: 5:30
                     6014 28th St., North                        Film viewing:  6:15
                     Arlington, VA 22207                       Discussion & Dessert
                               A $10 contribution to cost of the food is requested
Please RSVP here if interested in attending.

Cinema Series Interview: “The Lunchbox”

Lenore Pomerance interviews Navmoon Mann on presenting “The Lunchbox” for the MAGPS Cinema Series October 6, 2018 movie.

Dr. Navmoon Mann and I had a chat about the Indian movie, “The Lunchbox” that we are presenting Saturday, October 6, at Lorraine Wodiska’s house.  Navmoon said this movie is very reflective of middle-class Indian life.  He thought it would not be amusing, maybe even boring, to Indians because it is too much like real life.  He feels Indians respond more to dancing movies with happy endings.  This brings to mind “Bollywood” movies which typically are love stories with a lot of men and women dancing and singing.  However, when I checked The “Lunchbox” on Wikipedia it appears that it was very popular in India, and was the highest grossing Hindi movie for the male lead, Irrfan Khan up to that time.

In fact, according to an interview in The Guardian the director, Ritesh Batra, was surprised that “The Lunchbox” had become a box office phenomenon at home.  He said, “It’s a good sign that home audiences are changing – people want to see their stories on screen.  My parents were worried for me when I showed it to them.  My mum couldn’t understand why I hadn’t included any songs.” Or, much in the way of action or escapism. But not only was “The Lunchbox” successful in India it won many prizes abroad and grossed millions of dollars over its budget.

Navmoon and I talked about social class and social roles depicted in the film: women, the infirm, the elderly, and even those without family.  For example, women’s roles as caretakers, and even as unhappy wives are poignantly portrayed.  Again from The Guardian’s interview with the director: when Batra was asked if he consciously highlighted women’s issues, he indicated that not being a woman he was not overtly conscious of doing that, but as a new father to a daughter he hoped conditions would be different for her.  He stated,  “Last year, I was driving in Mumbai when this review show came on the radio and they were talking about my film. I had to stop the car. People were phoning in with these stories – ‘My mother watched it three times when she was dying of cancer, because it made her happy’ – or about how the film tapped into women’s issues.”

On another topic, Navmoon didn’t think this movie could be made in the U.S. because he feels it is more reflective of a restricted, orthodox society where social and family roles are fixed: the young wife spending most of her day preparing her husband’s lunch and dinner and taking care of their child; the aging, widowed  office worker expected to go to live in a senior community, aging wives taking care of terminally ill husbands. I wasn’t sure that is true.  Perhaps a stereotype portrayal in American movies of social disintegration and rootless nuclear families is just that, a stereotype that can be disproved by examples in everyday life.  A great topic for our group discussion.

Another richly portrayed “character” in the movie is the lunch delivery system in Mumbai which has been in existence for 125 years. In it, 5,000 or so lunchbox delivery men, the dabbawallahs transport hundreds of thousands of tiffin lunches back and forth from home kitchens and restaurants to office workers in the world’s fourth most densely populated city. Harvard Business School commissioned a six-month study into the service in 2010 that worked out that only one in a million deliveries go awry. Batra’s film hones in on that one.

So join Navmoon and me in watching and discussing this delightful film.

 

                           CINEMA SERIES presents CABARET
         Hosts:  Lorraine and Dan Wodiska            Dinner and visiting: 5:30
                     6014 28th St., North                        Film viewing:  6:15
                     Arlington, VA 22207                       Discussion & Dessert
                               A $10 contribution to cost of the food is requested
Please RSVP here if interested in attending.

2018-2019 Cinema Series Season

Mark your calendars now for the Cinema Series Season! Our movie dates are:

Saturday, October 6, 2018 – “The Lunchbox”

Discussants: Navmoon Mann, MD, & Lenore Pomerance, LICSW, CGP


Saturday, December 8, 2018 – “Moonlight”

Discussant: Reginald Nettles, PhD, CGP


Saturday, February 2, 2019 – “Call Me By Your Name”

Discussant: Sonia Kahn, PsyD


Saturday, April 13, 2019 – “Doubt”

Discussant: Katherine Thorn, LPC, LCPC, BCN & Dave Morrissette


 

Cinema Series Preview and Interview: Force Majeure

 

Saturday, April 7, 2018 – “Force Majeure”

 

Discussant: Brian Cross, PhD

 

 

Brian Cross, PhD will be presenting “Force Majeure” on Saturday April 7, 2018, at Lorraine and Dan Wodiska’s house. The New York Times described it as a “dark Swedish comedy. …Just under the surface of a seemingly blissful marriage run fissures that a sudden jolt can tear open to reveal a crumbling edifice. That’s the unsettling reality explored with a merciless lens in the Swedish director Ruben Ostlund ‘s fourth feature film.” Be sure to bring your long distance glasses for those subtitles. 
 
Where: Lorraine and Dan Wodiska’s house
            6014 N 28th St.
            Arlington, VA 22207
 
When: Dinner: 5:45 PM

                Movie:  6:30 PM

And now, please enjoy the Cinema Series Interview with Brian Cross, PhD, and Judy Tyson, PhD.

JUDY: Brian, I’m so glad to have the opportunity to get to know you and talk with you about, Force Majeure. Before we get to the film, tell us a bit about your clinical work and your choice to become a clinician in private practice.

BRIAN: As a therapist, early on, my focus was treating very disturbed children and teens and their family systems. I had been working with seriously emotionally disturbed children when a critical incident moved me to change the focus of my clinical work from school settings to private practice. While restraining a psychotic young boy, a teenager much larger than I hovered over me, threatening me with a small knife. With no staff present, my best intervention was limited to telling this teen that if he cut me he was going to end up in jail. And, he would be fresh meat in jail!

JUDY: A really frightening moment. Stunning. With your clinician’s responsibility and no option to “flee,” this moment truly was a “force majeure” for you. It reminds me of the family in our film. With light hearts they begin a ski vacation and an avalanche disrupts an idyllic moment. Now they have no choice but to face the aftermath of their own “force majeure.” But we can talk about that later.

BRIAN: Yes, for me, that moment with the teen was one of the “avalanches,” of my professional career. Soon after that incident I retreated to what seemed at the time would be a safer clinical environment, private practice. And I’ve been there since.

JUDY: Our backgrounds are somewhat similar. In my early years as a clinician I also worked with emotionally disturbed children and their families. Working with these children was a challenge that defies the imagination. It was truly tough work. So, after some intense experiences, I also, chose to re-tool and continue my clinical work in private practice.

BRIAN: When I began my private practice I evaluated children. Over the years, however, I found working with adults, couples, and group work deeply satisfying and have continued that to the present.

JUDY: Before we focus on the film, what moved you to volunteer to present at a Cinema Series event?

BRIAN: A while ago I went to a Cinema Series evening. A couple presented the film and it looked like it would be fun for me to present a film also.

JUDY: I’m glad to hear that what you saw inspired you to present a film as well. That’s what I hope the Cinema Series events offer us all: opportunities to enjoy one another, learn from one another, and, if we are open to it, be inspired by one another to try out something new, whether it is an activity or an idea.

JUDY: How did you discover Force Majeure?

BRIAN: Well, as a rule I prefer “fantasy entertainment.” I avoid films depicting anything that could remind me of my clinical work. I don’t watch films of struggling couples. Years ago, my lovely wife, Elizabeth, introduced me to this movie. She was watching the film, and I sat down to see a bit of it. I never finished the film then because the premise of the movie…an avalanche….running in fear…the emotional turmoil that ensues, suggested it wouldn’t be a story to promote restful sleep. But it did interest me.

JUDY: And, you did eventually watch the entire film? And found it to have redeeming value?

BRIAN: Yes, The bit I had first seen did interest me. So, later, I watched all of it. And I liked it! “Force Majeure,” starts out slowly. A family is beginning a ski vacation. Then we see their reaction to an avalanche.

JUDY: And, the energy shifts.

BRIAN: Yes. At first the film appears to be a bland story of a family on a ski vacation. But, it shifts. I found Force Majeure to be a very edgy, dark, existential movie.

JUDY: And what drew you to choose it as the film to present to us?

BRIAN: The film’s theme gradually emerges as a study about the limits of our humanity, stereotypic gender roles, the frame of marriage, the pretense of control, and the myriad of circumstances puncturing our lives and providing us ground for evolving. (Wearing my clinician hat, I immediately thought that the star couple in the film would soon be entering therapy).

JUDY: That does sound heavy. And the way you put it, pretty bleak.

BRIAN: But, on the other hand, I also found it to be a seriously funny movie. There were so many comedic moments. I laughed a lot watching it.

JUDY: That was my experience also. Maybe the unexpected comedy helps make the move successful. I agree, the film is “seriously” funny. The funny bits truly are funny; laugh out loud funny; “seriously” funny. For me, there is a serious aspect of some of those funny moments because the comedic moments are about “serious” concerns we can all have of the ego: self-esteem, trust, emotional safety. The director of Force Majeore, Ruben Ostlund, was quoted as saying, “All my films are about people trying to avoid losing face.” This film has numerous vignettes of men and women in their struggle with self-esteem; trying not to lose face. Many of the moments are poignant, troublesome or sad. And many others, while funny, point to issues that can keep us vulnerable, embarrassed, and sometimes ashamed.

BRIAN: In Force Majeure the dichotomy carried by the husband and wife, comes to light once they experience the avalanche and seems to stimulate their divisiveness, secrecy, and shame. The husband carries shame; the wife assumes the vindictive victim; both husband and wife are reluctant to acknowledge self-doubt.

JUDY: To shift a bit; you might be aware that The Cinema Series committee has a commitment to support our MAGPS mission statement. To that end, we’ll have the opportunity in our discussion after the film to connect issues presented in the film with how these issues relate to the personal challenges in today’s socio/political climate. Can you relate any of the film’s themes to present day concerns?

BRIAN: It is challenging to not let our differences separate us. We have all, at times, been tempted to take the road more traveled by separating ourselves from each other. We see in this film that, once jarred by a force majeure, the husband and wife find themselves doing just that with one another.

JUDY: The characters in the film struggle to cope with the after-shock of a force majeure. The struggle to maintain their equilibrium and “save face” polarizes them. In our discussion after the film, we will have an opportunity to consider whether any of the themes and concerns in the film remind us of challenges and struggles in our social and political life today. We’ll have a conversation about times we have been triggered by what may have been an unrecognized “force majeure,” that moved us to reactivity and projections; when we realize we could not tap into our wisdom. We can talk about the challenges currently facing our society politically and how those challenges also touch us socially, at times even in our inner circle. We can reflect on what appears as chaos caused by the disequilibrium of our times. I look forward to facilitating what I hope will be a meaningful conversation for all of us.

Cinema Series Preview and Interview: Get Out

 

Saturday, February 10, 2018 – “Get Out”

 

Discussant: Raquel Willerman, PhD, LCSW & Warren Levy

 

The Movie ‘Get Out’ Is a Strong Antidote to the Myth of ‘Postracial’ America (NYT)

 

“Get Out” speaks in several voices on several themes. It subverts the horror genre itself — which has the well-documented habit of killing off black characters first. It comments on the re-emergence of white supremacy at the highest levels of American politics. It lampoons the easy listening racism that so often lies behind the liberal smile in the “postracial” United States. And it probes the systematic devaluation of black life that killed people like Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner (New York Times, March 27, 2017). Join us on February 10, 2018Click here for more information.

 

 

And now, our cinema series interview with Judy Tyson, PhD, CGP, Raquel Willerman, PhD, LCSW, and Warren Levy:

 

JUDY: Raquel and Warren, I am glad to have an opportunity to talk with you about the film you chose to present at our next Cinema Series. Jordan Peele, the writer and director of “Get Out” has received accolades from the film industry for his film. And by the time this interview is read, many will already know that “Get Out” was nominated for a Golden Globe award and has been recognized as ground breaking in the film industry.

 

I saw “Get Out” to prepare for this interview. And when mentioning the film to friends and colleagues, their “push back” reactions surprised me. To some, its “horror” label telegraphs “ominous,” “foreboding,” “scary,” and is a reason to avoid the film altogether. Would you give speak to this issue, first off?

 

RAQUEL: The first thing I will say about me is that I don’t like horror movies.  My body gets disregulated just at the sound of eerie music!  There are suspenseful and unsettling moments in this film. However, clearly, Peele does not want to scare his audience away. He wants his audience to connect with the film; to identify with the African American protagonist. The well timed comedic moments give us opportunities to catch our breath, self-regulate, and metabolize the intensity of the subject matter he presents. And that helps us take away a viewing experience we can learn from.

 

It’s ironic that the category “Get Out” was nominated for at the 2018 Golden Globes was actually comedy, not horror.  It was also nominated for best screenplay and best actor. It has won best film for many smaller film awardsas well.  From a cinematographic perspective, it’s gorgeous. There are numerous reasons to see this film in addition to its “message”.

 

JUDY: I agree. Peele says that the film’s label is irrelevant. It has been labeled comedy, documentary, horror, and I would consider adding satire to that list. What is significant is that it is a Black man’s statement of racism as it exists presently in our society.

 

RAQUEL: Peele’s statement absolutely resonates with me. I think it’s so important for White people to realize that even if they work hard to “be safe” for people of color, or believe themselves to harbor no racism at all, that there’s an entire US history, from slavery, to lynching’s, to Jim Crow, to present-time uses of incarceration and police brutality, that make it impossible for a Black person to “turn off” his or her alarm system in White spaces. It is an act of courage to be in a predominately White space.

 

In fact, I think it is a brilliant aspect of the film that most of the film takes place in an upper class White suburb. For many of us, including me and Warren, such a magnificently appointed suburb says, “safety.” But for Peele’s main Back protagonist, we learn that our White safety is not safe for him.

 

JUDY: That challenges the assumptions of so many. Even those never having lived in an upper class White suburb may hold those assumptions. Peele reminds us that those who are invited into an “inner circle” are “outsiders”. Being considered “the other” may mean never being safe from assumptions or acts of others that jar or are hurtful. And, as Peele suggests, in some circumstances, can annihilate.

 

To shift the focus, would you each please share a bit about your personal selves? What could you tell us that would give us an understanding of your choice to present this challenging film?

 

RAQUEL:  I have participated in various anti-racism efforts over the years as a White person. I’ve learned about the pervasiveness of racism and that there are conscious and unconscious aspects to it. In fact, I have come to realize that racism is so pervasive it can be said to be in the air we breathe. Like breathing polluted air, no one escapes it; not even those of us who work hard to end racism.

 

I also have found from my experience that much of the work to recognize our own racism involves being able to pendulate between self-regulation and moving towards the discomfort.  For example, if we are White we need to increase our windows of tolerance of what we can see, hear and feel about the African American experience. And we need to expand our understanding of the ways we are complicit in or benefit from racism.

 

JUDY: It seems that bringing this film to our attention is a way you will have helped us expand our awareness of how we may be complicit that we may be unaware of.

 

And, Warren, what would you like to share about yourself? How does your interest in this film reflect your interests and concerns?

 

WARREN: As a physician, I try to be sensitive to the stresses in patients’ lives both personal and societal.   But it is all too easy for me, a White man of privilege, to forget about the traumas that African-Americans experience every day. This film presented the trauma and allowed me to feel some of that fear through Peele’s protagonist and his experiences with his White upper middle class girlfriend and her family.

 

When watching the film I got pulled in by the plot.  After it ended, and Raquel and I talked about it, I could reflect on the symbolism and the overarching themes.

 

JUDY: Your discussion with Raquel enabled you to gain insight as to what the film has to offer. That’s great validation for the group discussion we’ll have after viewing the film on Cinema Series night. Our group discussion, facilitated by a few of us, will be a time to share our perspectives and develop learnings and gain insights.

 

WARREN: I certainly hope so.

 

JUDY: It seems to me Peele wants more from his audience than recognizing the racism in others. It seems to me that he wants his audience to realize each of us, unwittingly, has made assumptions based on unconscious projections which have been grounded in racism. It could be “horrifying” to realize this. Could we, informed by our own unconscious attitudes, be perpetuating racism?

 

There are moments in the film when Peele’s characters express attitudes or behave in ways we would reject. Again, their attitudes “horrify” us. Peele suggests it is “horrifying” that some of use may be operating from our unconscious assumptions of the “other”.

 

RAQUEL: Judy, this is a very astute observation and one that leads to the crux of anti-racism work in my opinion.  It would be easy for me, a White person, to look at the White characters and say, “That’s not me!”  And of course in most of the details it isn’t.  But the dream-like quality of the movie encourages us to look deeper into ourselves, into our unconscious processes to ask these questions.

 

JUDY:  Raquel, what would you hope our colleagues and friends “takeaway” from reading this interview, viewing the film, and participating in the discussion?

 

RAQUEL: I would hope that people feel their perspective about race and racism is enlarged.  I would hope they feel curious about looking into all the symbolism of the movie, because one night of discussion won’t cover it all.  And I would also hope that it spurs participation at some level, personal, clinical, political, and societal in the efforts to end racism.

 

JUDY: Well spoken, Raquel. Those of us who organize the Cinema Series support those goals as well. The next Cinema Series evening, February 10, we’ll visit over dinner and then I’ll invite you to introduce the film. Perhaps, you could suggest what we might think about, or notice, or wonder about while viewing the film. After the film, we’ll all get some dessert and sit down together for a group discussion.

 

I’m looking forward to the opportunity we will have to explore how this film speaks to us. We can share our reactions to the film. We will have the opportunity to take on Peele’s invitation to consider how our unconscious projections have influenced our decisions and actions in our day to day lives.