Film Focus: Catching Fire

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, as Twitter, Facebook, and T.V. commercials have been telling you for the past week, but Catching Fire is out! If you haven’t seen it, it’s ok, because I won’t be spilling any spoilers. If you have seen it or, as most people like to claim, have read the book, feel free to offer your insight!

So we know the basic premise, which mirrors and extends the first story’s plot. A futuristic land with a capitol that controls 99% of the money and power over the 12 districts sends young adults into gladiator-style battles to the death for enjoyment and as a reminder that the districts are at the capitol’s mercy.

catching-fire-poster

What I’m interested in is a single line that is retold throughout this and the past movie. After a single person survives the Hunger Games, s/he is awarded by living in comfort back in their poverty-stricken district. That person is then forced to say towards the capitol numerous times: “Thank you, for the forgiveness and generosity of capitol.” Now what this makes me think about is when survivors of hurricane Katrina went on air via news channels and said, similarly: “thank you, America, for your compassion and generosity.” Or let’s take this transnationally, when America became the shining beacon of support for the earthquake survivors in Haiti, or the views America had towards the Tsunami survivors in the Philippines.

In these examples and in the Hunger Games storyline, there is depiction that the area with the power and resources graciously extend acts of compassion and mercy towards the otherwise victimized land already troubled with hardship. What is untold, however is that these areas are experiencing hardship largely due to neglect from said merciful lands. Centuries of history show that Louisiana and the surrounding area have been at risk for floods and hurricanes, and coincidentally this unsafe area is where there is much poverty. Is this a surprise, or have these underprivileged people (mostly of color) been forced to live where the rich care not to? When the earthquake struck in 2011 Haiti was known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and relief efforts from the United Nations only perpetuate the mainstream idea: “oh those poor people! Oh but we’re here now, we’re such good people, we’ll save you,” when if we really wanted to make a difference, we would not have waited for an earthquake to motivate us. This nationalistic ego stroke was completely rejected by the Philippines earlier this year following the tsunami. President Obama tried to define the culture with a westernized concept: resilient. Numerous authors identified as Filipina/o resented the notation of bending but not breaking, as it within their culture that breaking occurs, but transformation follows.

Bringing this back to the topic of the Hunger Games, I find the storyline to be way ahead of its time (considering the books were written before the Occupy movements). There are many other social justice movements in the series, including: anti-war, feminism, economic inequality, disability, and anti-racism. If you have the chance to see it, read the book first, and then go! I give 4 out of 5 Snowcaps!

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You Are What You Watch

      This summer’s 30th annual OutFest is in the middle of its amazing screening! OutFest is an independent organization that celebrates the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities by showcasing stories that reflect and represent LGBTQ stories on screen. While watching some of the short films created by LGBTQ youth I couldn’t help but wonder why theatres weren’t full of these funny, quirky, provocative stories. I received my answer during a panel of screenwriters discussing sexuality and queer influence in horror pictures. As director of the upcoming Carrie movie remake (which I am SO excited to see!), Kimberly Pierce, put it: movies are created to make money.

     Now I find some sort of explanation for the stream of movies that are coming out that I absolutely loathe. The majority of people will pay to see movies about pretty people with meager romantic problems, cars going really fast with explosions and gunshots, and waking up in Vegas with a hangover. Gone are the days where movies were rich in story and provided provocative critical examination. I find the fact that movies are now created for profit disheartening, because now it seems like movies are here only to satisfy the stupid-humor craze young adults feel and want to pay for.

      ImageSo why not take a break from that movie with all those actors you’ve seen too many times and watch a movie that tells a story about a culture? Independent movies show the stories of cultures that people feel need to be shown. Franchised and box office movies create barriers that ethnic cultures can rarely breach. OutFest removes the heteronormative barriers that have prohibited LGBTQ movies from being seen. These stories of heartache, love, humor, and family within the LGBTQ community are now able to be seen by whoever has the willing mind to watch them. These films are also beacons of hope for youth who don’t see themselves represented in blockbuster films. Take some time out of your schedule and take a look at what OutFest is screening. If you’re still in the mood for some independent cultural films, be sure to keep in contact with the CCC! Independent Visions screens cultural, edgy, riveting films that challenge the viewer to critically examine their social landscape. 

-Cvidale