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Bright Lights Film Series begins 2015-16 season

Media Contact:

Carole McFall, 617-824-8415, (mobile) 617-283-8435,

Emerson College Bright Lights Film Series Shines a Spotlight on Underrepresented Filmmakers and Topics

—The series includes No le Digas a Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone), part of the Directed by Women global viewing party; I Believe in Unicorns, a drama about a teenage girl’s escape to a twisted fantasy world; and Brand: A Second Coming, a documentary about comedian, activist Russell Brand. All screenings will include discussions with special guests—

BOSTON, MA (September 1, 2015)—On Tuesday, September 8, Emerson College’s Visual and Media Arts Department kicks off its Bright Lights Series—free film screenings open to the public. This year, the series is using a new rating system to highlight films directed by a woman or person of color; films with a strong female-centric story; social justice films; or comedies, in recognition of the College’s newly announced Comedic Arts major and current comedy minor.

Bright Lights Series Film Ratings:

F: Feminist film

W: Directed by a woman

POC: Directed by a person of color

COM: Comedy program

SJ: Social justice film

All screenings start at 7:00 pm and take place at the Paramount Center’s Bright Family Screening Room, located at 559 Washington St., Boston. Seating is first come, first served. There is no advance registration. For more information about screenings and updates on special guests, visit the Bright Lights Series website (, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @BrightLightFilm.

Mad Max

A scene from Mad Max: Fury Road, which screens at the Bright Lights Series on Tuesday, September 8.

Tuesday, September 8: Mad Max: Fury Road

Directed by George Miller, narrative (sci-fi/action), 120 minutes, USA, 2015, DCP.

This apocalyptic story is set in the farthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed, fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is a woman of action who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland. Discussion with Associate Professor Miranda Banks to follow. F

Tuesday, September 15: No le Digas a Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone)

Co-presented with the Arlington International Film Festival. Co-sponsored by AMIGOS, Violence Prevention and Response, Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement, Service Learning and Community Action, and Diversity and Inclusion. Part of the Directed by Women global viewing party. Directed by Mikaela Shwer, documentary, 71 minutes, USA, 2015, Blu-ray.

No Le Digas a Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone) is a film about courage, facing insurmountable obstacles, and the determination to fight for justice. In an environment where silence is often seen as necessary for survival, 24-year-old Angy Rivera steps out of the shadows to share her parallel journey of being undocumented and sexually abused, an ordeal all too common in her community. Discussion with activist Angy Rivera to follow the screening. W, SJ

Thursday, September 17: Do I Sound Gay?

Co-sponsored by the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Independent Film Festival of Boston, EAGLE, and eQual. Directed by David Thorpe, documentary, 77 minutes, USA, 2014, Blu-ray.
Is there such a thing as a “gay voice”? Why do some people “sound gay” but not others? Why are gay voices a mainstay of pop culture but also a trigger for bullying and harassment? Do I Sound Gay? explores these questions and more and includes revealing interviews with Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris, and George Takei. Discussion with Speech Language Pathologist Dr. Kelly Farquharson to follow. SJ

Tuesday, September 22: The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen

Co-sponsored by the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, EBONI, and EAGLE. Directed by Jennifer Abod, documentary, 84 minutes, USA, 2014, Blu-ray.

For six decades, Angela Bowen, classical dancer and teacher, black lesbian feminist activist, and professor has influenced and inspired untold numbers speaking out as strongly for the arts and Black and women’s rights as she has for lesbian and gay rights. The film depicts Bowen’s life across the decades, from the early fifties, with historic footage, photographs, and interviews including her dance mentor, dance partner, former husband, partner, children, activists, scholars, and dance and university students. Discussion with director Dr. Jennifer Abod to follow. W, SJ

Thursday, September 24: Mystic Mass

Co-sponsored by Documentary Educational Resources. Directed by Karim B Haroun, documentary, 70 minutes, Canada, 2014, DCP.

Every year, thousands of Shia gather in the town of Nabatiyyeh, Lebanon, to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, killed in battle 1,434 years ago. They take part in very long processions, self- flagellation, and self-mutilation, and reenact the martyrdom of Imam Hussein with their own blood and flesh. Mystic Mass documents the ceremony and provides an exhaustive description of how the mass forms, how it reaches the highest levels of mysticism, and how it dissolves—all in 24 hours. Discussion with filmmaker Karim B Haroun and faculty Kathryn Ramey and Yasser Munif to follow. POC

Tuesday, September 29: I Am Michael

Co-sponsored by the Boston LGBT Film Festival; EAGLE; and the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing. Directed by Justin Kelly, narrative (drama), 98 minutes, USA, 2015, DCP.

I Am Michael depicts the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze (James Franco), the charismatic and outspoken co-editor of the iconic XY Magazine. Following a traumatic health scare and plagued by fear, Michael begins to question his beliefs and his identity. He leaves his charming and intelligent boyfriend (Zachary Quinto), renounces his gay life, and, after a period of spiritual exploration, eventually becomes the pastor of his own church. More than just a story about “a gay man who goes straight,” I Am Michael examines the power of belief and the desire to belong. Discussion with writer and faculty Benoit Denizet-Lewis and director Justin Kelly to follow the screening. SJ

Thursday, October 1: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Directed by Brett Morgen, documentary, 145 minutes, USA, 2015, DCP.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck explores the indelible record of a life lived on the fine edge between madness and genius, painting a searing and unforgettable portrait of the iconic musician as it mirrors his quicksilver mind. Using Cobain’s own words and images, this intimate look at an elusive and conflicted artist marks the first documentary to be made with the cooperation of his family. Discussion with Associate Professors Miranda Banks and Kristin Lieb to follow.

Tuesday, October 6: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Directed by Mary Dore, documentary, 92 minutes, USA, 2014, DCP.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.  She’s Beautiful takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation; from intellectuals such as Kate Millett to the street theatrics of W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!). Artfully combining dramatizations, performance and archival imagery, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their own equality, and in the process created a worldwide revolution. Discussion with members of the organization Our Bodies Ourselves to follow. W, SJ

Thursday, October 8: Stink!

Co-presented with the Boston Globe Documentary Festival. Directed by Jon J Whelan, documentary, 91 minutes, USA, 2015, DCP.

Stink! opens with a foul smell and a pair of kids pajamas. And a single father trying to find out what that smell could possibly be. But instead of getting a straight answer, director Jon Whelan stumbles on an even bigger issue in America, which is that some products on our store shelves are not safe—by design. Entertaining, enlightening, and at times almost absurd, Stink! takes you on a madcap journey from the retailer to the laboratory, through corporate boardrooms, down back alleys, and into the halls of Congress. Follow Whelan as he clashes with political and corporate operatives all trying to protect the darkest secrets of the chemical industry. You won't like what you smell.  Discussion with director Jon Whelan to follow.

Tuesday, October 13: Amy

Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Directed by Asif Kapadia, documentary, 128 minutes, UK, 2015, Blu-ray.

A once-in-a-generation talent, Amy Winehouse was a musician who captured the world’s attention. A pure jazz artist in the most authentic sense, she wrote and sung from the heart using her musical gifts to analyze her own problems. The combination of her raw honesty and supreme talent resulted in some of the most unique and adored songs of the modern era. Her huge success, however, resulted in relentless and invasive media attention that, coupled with Amy’s troubled relationships and precarious lifestyle, saw her life tragically begin to unravel. Discussion with Assistant Professor Tim Riley and Associate Professor Kristin Lieb to follow. POC

Thursday, October 15: Roar

Directed by Noel Marshall, narrative (drama), 102 minutes, USA, 1981, DCP.

An unprecedented—and wholly unpredictable—action-adventure, Roar follows wildlife preservationist Hank (The Exorcist producer Noel Marshall in his sole and career-derailing turn as an actor and director), who lives harmoniously alongside a menagerie of more than 100 untamed animals, including cheetahs, elephants, lions, and tigers on a preservation in the African plains. When his wife and children arrive (real-life wife Tippi Hedren [The Birds], stepdaughter Melanie Griffith [Working Girl], and his sons John and Jerry Marshall) for a visit, a long-brewing battle for dominance between the lions erupts and threatens their very lives. Discussion with Senior Affiliated Faculty Jacqueline Romeo to follow.

Tuesday, October 20: This Is My Land

Co-presented with the Boston Palestine Film Festival. Directed by Tamara Erde, documentary, 94 minutes, Israel/Palestine, 2014, Blu-ray.

How do the Palestinian and Israeli (Arab and Jewish) education systems teach the history of their nations? The film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over one academic year. Through observing their exchanges and confrontations with students, debates with the ministries curriculum and its restrictions, viewers obtain an intimate glimpse into the profound and long-lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits onto the next generation. Skype discussion with director Tamara Erde to follow. W, SJ

Tuesday, October 27: What We Do in the Shadows

Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, narrative (comedy), 86 minutes, New Zealand, 2014, Blu-ray.

Housemates Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are three vampires who are trying to get by in modern society; from paying rent and doing housework to trying to get invited into nightclubs, they’re just like anyone else—except they’re immortal and must feast on human blood. When their 8,000-year-old roommate Petyr, turns 20-something human hipster Nick into a vampire, the guys must guide him through his newfound eternal life. In return, they are forced to learn a thing or two about modern society, fashion, technology, and the Internet. Discussion with Senior Scholar-in-Residence Ken Feil to follow. COM

Thursday, October 29: It Follows

Directed by David Robert Mitchell, narrative (horror, suspense), 100 minutes, USA, 2014, Blu-ray.

For nineteen-year-old Jay, autumn should be about school, boys, and weekends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind. Discussion with Affiliated Professor Ellen Snedecker to follow via Skype. F

Tuesday, November 3: I Believe in Unicorns

Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston and co-presented by Violence Prevention and Response. Directed by Leah Meyerhoff, narrative (drama), USA, 80 minutes, 2014, DCP.

Davina is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who often escapes into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up quickly as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy. Davina is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, but the enchantment of her new relationship quickly fades when his volatile side begins to emerge. I Believe in Unicorns takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love. Discussion with director Leah Meyerhoff to follow. F, W

Thursday, November 5: Dope

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, narrative (comedy), 103 minutes, USA, 2014, DCP.

High-school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) bond over ’90s hip-hop culture, their studies and playing music in their own punk band. A chance encounter with a drug dealer named Dom lands Malcolm and company at the dealer’s nightclub birthday party; when the scene turns violent, they flee—with the ecstasy that Dom secretly hid in Malcolm's backpack. A wild adventure ensues as the youths try to evade armed thugs who want the stash. Discussion with Assistant Professor Cara Moyer-Duncan to follow. POC

Tuesday, November 10: Wholly Communion

Co-sponsored by the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing. Directed by Peter Whitehead, documentary, 33 minutes, UK, 1965, 35mm.

This short film documents what was referred to as “The International Poetry Incarnation.” It was billed as Great Britain’s first full-scale “happening,” with the world’s leading Beat poets together under one roof at the Royal Albert Hall on June 11, 1965, for an evening of near-hallucinatory revelry. It came to be seen as one of the cultural high points of the Swinging Sixties. Poetry reading by alumnus Janaka Stucky, participant in the Poetry Reincarnation 50th anniversary event in London this past spring, to follow.

Thursday November 12: Coureurs des toits (Roof Runners)

Co-sponsored by SODEC, the Quebecois Delegation, and the French Cultural Center. Directed by Helgi Piccinin, documentary, 40 minutes, Canada, 2015, DCP.

From December to March, Félix, Julien, Éric, and Charles and the rest of the gang are the L'Escouade des neiges (The snow squad). For the past ten years, every winter, they perch on the steep roofs of the old town of Quebec City. These spider men climb, shovel, and de-ice. They protect buildings from dangerously heavy snow-covered roofs and pedestrians of the historic district from falling ice. But beyond their work, somewhere between heaven, the city, and the river, they found a temporary space for freedom. Discussion with director Helgi Piccinin to follow.

Tuesday, November 17: Sound and Vision

Co-sponsored by the Boston Underground Film Festival.

The Boston Underground Film Festival’s annual love letter to the art of the music video. Like a lovingly curated mixtape from your slightly skewed best friend, this collection celebrates the gems this underappreciated medium has to offer. Forget YouTube; these videos are best enjoyed on the big screen. Curated by Emerson alumna Shannen Ortale.

Thursday, November 19: Silversonic Annual Music Video Showcase

Silversonic is an annual showcase of music videos made by current Emerson students and alumni. It is a celebration of the combination of music and image as a unique art form worthy of exhibition in a cinema environment. There will be a reception following the screening with an opportunity for discussion with musicians and filmmakers.

Tuesday, December 1: I Am a Knife with Legs

Co-sponsored by the Boston Underground Film Festival. Directed by Bennett Jones, narrative (comedy), 83 minutes, USA, 2014, DCP.

On the run from an assassin, international rock star Bené and his manager, Beefy, hide out in Los Angeles and prepare for a showdown with death. Discussion with director and star Bennett Jones to follow the screening. Bené will also be on hand to perform some of his hit tunes! COM

Thursday, December 3: Brand: A Second Coming

Directed by Ondi Timoner, documentary, 105 minutes, UK, 2015, DCP.

This film follows comedian/author/activist Russell Brand as he dives headlong into drugs, sex, and fame in an attempt to find happiness, only to realize that our culture feeds us bad ideas and empty idols. Through his standup, Brand explores his own true icons—Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, and Jesus Christ—and evolves from addict and Hollywood star to an unexpected political disruptor and newfound hero to the underserved. Will Brand hold fast against the roar of criticism to break out of the very system that built him? Discussion with director Ondi Timoner and Professor Martie Cook to follow. COM, SJ, W

Tuesday, December 8: Lost River

Directed by Ryan Gosling, narrative (drama), 95 minutes, USA, 2014, DCP.

Lost River is a dark fairy tale about love, family, and the fight for survival in the face of danger. In the virtually abandoned city of Lost River, Billy (Christina Hendricks), a single mother of two, is led into a macabre underworld in her quest to save her childhood home and hold her family together. Her teenage son Bones (Iain De Casestecker) discovers a mystery about the origins of Lost River that triggers his curiosity and sets into motion an unexpected journey that will test his limits and the limits of those he loves. Discussion with Senior Scholar-in-Residence Jim Lane to follow. F

About Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,750 undergraduates and 750 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. For more information, visit the website.

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