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Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival happening at EIU

From the press release:

Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival brings fictional films and documentaries to EIU

CHARLESTON, Ill. (March 4, 2014) – The lights will dim in auditoriums and lecture halls as documentary and fiction films take center stage for the Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival March 17-20 on the Eastern Illinois University campus. This year’s schedule includes screenings of four powerful films, a roundtable with a local not-for-profit organization and an afternoon devoted to films submitted by aspiring directors and filmmakers.

Now in its seventh year, the Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival supports the mission of the EIU Women’s Studies Program, which is to promote an understanding of how issues related to gender, age, race, economic status, sexual identity, and nationality affect women’s lives and the communities in which they live. In order to promote an equitable and sensitive environment for all persons, Women’s Studies also responds to issues affecting women on the EIU campus and in the local community.

The festival kicks off Monday, March 17th at 3 p.m. in Roberson Auditorium at Lumpkin Hall with the screening of Service: When Women Come Marching Home. The documentary made by Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter highlights the special challenges faced by disabled female veterans as they transition from active duty to civilian life.

According to the film’s website, SERVICE portrays the courage of the women in service and once they have left the military; the horrific traumas they faced; the inadequate care they often receive on return; and the large and small accomplishments the women work mightily to achieve. Through compelling portraits, the film shows women as they wrestle with prosthethetics, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The film has received awards from The Volunteers of America of Illinois Silver Star and Shining Service.
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, the first feature film by producer, writer and director Jessica Oreck, will be shown on Tuesday, March 18th at 3:30 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall. The film explores the mystery of the development of Japan’s love affair with bugs, but also delves deeper into Japanese philosophies. It won the Best Documentary Award at the East Oregon Film Festival in 2010.
“My aim is to challenge the way Westerners view nature, beauty and the hectic monotony of our day-to-day routine,” Oreck said in a statement on her website. “It is my intention to inspire a new sense of wonder — a small sense of wonder – one that does not overwhelm, but acts, like some gentle war of attrition, to slowly but substantially coax us into rethinking how we live our lives.”
A second film will be screened on March 18th at 7 p.m. in the Coleman Auditorium. Refrigerator Mothers by David E. Simpson tells the story of mothers in the 1950s and ‘60s who were blamed for their children’s autism because of their failure to bond with them. The film opens the door to an intimate account of life with an invisible disability, and serves as a striking cautionary tale about the tragedy that misdiagnosis can cause, and a dramatic portrait of women whom society rejected as mothers but who never stopped being mothers to their children, according to the film’s website.

A discussion will follow the screening of the documentary Refrigerator Mothers to address the multiple issues surrounding autism and its diagnosis and causes. The panelists are Kristin Gharst, family resource coordinator for the Autism Program at CTF Illinois; Dr. Gail Richard, chair of the Communication Disorders and Sciences at EIU; and Marjorie Hanft, EIU psychology instructor with professional and personal experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

On Wednesday, March 19th at 4 p.m. in the Coleman Hall Auditorium, the festival switches gears to screen films submitted by aspiring filmmakers and directors from around the world on topics relating to gender and/or social justice issues; films that link local and global issues; films created by people underrepresented in the media field (women, people of color, queer/transgendered people, and people with disabilities). More than 20 films in two categories, documentary films and fictional films, have been submitted from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, New York, California, Canada, Israel and the Philippines.

The top three or four winning films from each category will be announced and screened for the audience.

The festival concludes with a screening of Stories We Tell, by Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley, on Thursday, March 20th at 7 p.m. in the Coleman Hall Auditorium. Polley acts as both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. According to the website, the film explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.

All of the film screenings and associated events are free to attend and open to the public. 

The Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival takes place each year in March during Women’s History and Awareness Month (WHAM). The WHAM schedule at EIU also includes an Exhibit at the Tarble Arts Center, a keynote presentation titled “The Last Walk: Caring for Our Animal Companions,” a presentation on the Civil War, and the Women’s Studies Annual Awards Ceremony.  This year’s theme for WHAM and the film festival is Wo/Men in Nature and Nurture.

The event is co-sponsored by the College of Arts & Humanities and the Coles County Arts Council.

To learn more about the Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival, visit, email Robin Murray at [email protected] or call 217-581-2428. 

The condensed schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 17
Lumpkin Auditorium, 3:00-4:45 p.m.
Service: When Women Come Marching Home

Tuesday, March 18
Doudna Lecture Hall, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Coleman Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.
Refrigerator Mothers (2003, dir. David E. Simpson) and a roundtable discussion with Charleston Transitional Facility

Wednesday, March 19
Coleman Auditorium, 4:00-9:00
CIFFF Film Festival Screenings of films submitted by filmmakers

Thursday, March 20, Coleman Auditorium, 7:00-9:00
Stories We Tell (2013, dir. Sarah Polley)

Executive Editor

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