Foreign film series provides insight on international cultures

Auriel Brown

For individuals in the Joplin area wanting exposure to foreign cultures, the contemporary film series at Missouri Southern provides the opportunity.

William Kumbier, professor of English and festival coordinator, said the event started out as a continuing education class, showing films every Friday, but many found it difficult to keep up with the schedule.

The group decided meeting twice a month would better suit everyone.

So with a predominately faculty audience, 35 to 40 people attend the festival on a regular basis.

“We try to get every area of the world,” Kumbier said.

He said the rule is to watch anything, but an American film.

“I get a catalog from a company in Chicago called Facets every couple of months and they are very good with foreign films,” Kumbier said.

He said after he reviews the catalog he makes note of the films which may be of interest for the group.

He said after he reviews the catalog he makes note of the films which may be of interest for the group.

Kumbier said with selection process of each film he looks for interesting stories with interesting characters.

The spring series began Feb. 3, with the showing of Turtles Can Fly, one of the first feature films shot in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

“With [Turtles Can Fly] I had read about the film so I knew what to expect,” Kumbier said.

The film told the story of children having to rely on each other for survival right before the war.

This was primarily accomplished through the main character Satellite, who sold antennas for profit and was also the translator for what was being said in American news.

Other films will be shown on select Friday evenings throughout the spring semester.

With the showing of each film, Kumbier said a foreign film library is slowly being created. After each film is shown, it is taken to the international resource library at Southern.

The next scheduled film is [Look at Me], a French film, which plays at 7 p.m. Friday.

The film features the character Lolita, who works to get her father’s attention despite the attempts of others to use her to their own advantage.

“I just think our group would like it because it’s well made, good acting, pretty typical human situation,” Kumbier said. “We all struggle with whether our parents pay any attention to us or not.”

Kumbier said there is no one message intended for people to take away from film.

The showing of the first film gave some in attendance an insight on the personal struggles of those during the war.

“It showed me something I don’t like to think about; how others are suffering,” said Dr. Gwen Murdock, professor of psychology.

Jason Knapp, senior political science major and one of the three students in attendance and a festival regular, said he enjoyed the film.

“I’m a little interested in international activity,” Knapp said. “It’s good to see a different perspective.”

Kumbier said the film also gave the audience the opportunity to see something they otherwise may not have been exposed to.

“It has a texture that shows the war from a different standpoint,” he said. “It’s utterly from the other side.”

Kumbier also said an important reason for showing the films as such is their lack of acknowledgement in the area.

“Here we have a film that’s internationally important, but it’s not showing in Joplin,” he said.

Kumbier said a major reason for films not showing in Joplin could be individual’s tolerance for having to read.

“They hate to watch films that are not in English,” Kumbier said. “The only film I know that Americans liked in Joplin was Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, because it was such a great martial arts film so they could stand the sub-titles.”

Kumbier added that someone has to be more patient and laid back to watch a foreign film.

“Foreign movies often move at a slower pace,” he said. “We tend to like movies with more changes in scenery and more action.”

For more information to learn about future film showings, contact Kumbier at [email protected]