The aim of our on-going Media Literacy program is to inspire students, the teachers and caretakers to think critically and in new ways about the hyper-mediated world around them. Through dialogue and exercises inspired by educational films, the facilitators at the screenings, and teacher’s guides available for use in the school, students learn to question and examine what they see in mainstream media. They discuss why certain messages are consistently present, and why others are absent; the ways that media normalizes violence and reinforces, as well as constructs, stereotypical ideas about gender, beauty, race and other cultures.
We will also introduce the students to films about (and often produced by) diverse national and international communities seldom seen in mainstream media. Examining these innovative films will help students to understand how films can be used as a tool for social justice, human rights and environmental stewardship; historical and scientific documentation; and as a citizen’s tool to call attention to issues critical to their lives.
On February 28th The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center welcomed Patchogue-Medford High School Students, teachers, administrators and special guest speaker Isabel Sepulveda, Founder of Voz Latina. We kick started our first Media Literacy program with the yet-to-be released Violeta Went To Heaven about the Chilean Folklorist, artist and singer-composer Violeta Parra. The film earned the Sundance Film Institute’s 2012 World Cinema Jury Prize. This film will be shown again in April during The South By South Shore Music and Arts Festival, April 2-7.
Thank you Isabel Sepulveda for sharing your experiences growing up in Chile, meeting Violeta Parra and discussing the history and politics of Chile.
In April, The Plaza will show the 2013 Oscar Nominated film No about a brash young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) spearheading a campaign against Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. With scant resources and constant scrutiny by the despot’s watchmen, Saavedra and his team devise an audacious plan to win the election and free their country from oppression.