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March 30, 2006

Questioning Strength: A Film about its Physical & Emotional Aspects

The 44 minute documentary from 2002 Siłaczka [The Strongwoman] by Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz reports the story of Justyna, a young girl who was a champion weightlifter in Poland, who brought charges of alleged sexual abuse committed on her and her sister Aneta by their trainer, an older man and respected member of the community. A young journalist learns about the scandal in Malbork and goes to investigate why justice wasn't served. What she discovers is something neither she nor the viewer are likely to suspect. The neighborhood, it seems, decided to support the alleged molester (even though all of the weighlifter's friends attested to the journalist that "Justyna's story was true) . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 10:16 PM and is filed under Film.
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March 27, 2006

The World Outside Our Windows: Learning about Displacement and Resettlement

Source: http://www.powerhousebooks.com/photos/8199157-550px.jpg

"There's a world outside your window / and it's a world of dread and fear" - from "Do They Know it's Christmas?" by Sir Bob Geldof, et al.

As students of the Holocaust, we know something about the horrors of genocide . . .

From The Citizenship and Civic Engagement Initiative:

Since 2003, there has been a war between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups in this western region of Sudan. The government forces and the ethnic militias called "Janjaweed" have systematically attacked the Darfurian civilians, killing unarmed people, burning their villages, stealing their livestock, and forcing them to flee. The government forces and the Janjaweed have also terrorized these displaced people in their refugee camps. The Janjaweed are using rape as a weapon to further demoralize and destroy the social fabric of the Darfurian peoples. These brutal actions have been called "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide."

Last week the IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) student newspaper, The Penn, ran the following article about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan (see below). Dr. Marveta Ryan-Sams, in a campus-wide email, said "There is a genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan. Thousands of Sudanese citizens are being killed, raped . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 09:19 AM and is filed under Industry Events.
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March 22, 2006

When Students Revolt: Reacting to Anarchy & _Generation '89_

Today I screened the first part of a documentary film called Pokołenie '89 by director Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz. This comprehensive exposé provided a series of concise vignettes about the Independent Student Union [in Polish, "NZS"] participants who, in the late '80s, actively opposed the Communist government in Warszawa, Poland. Says the Visegrad Documentary Library:

The portrait of the first generation of Poles who reached adulthood after 1989, the turning point for the political transformation in Poland. The protagonists are middle-class people from Warsaw.

I will show the conclusion in the following class meeting. Granted, this material is hardcore and radically different from anything I've shown thus far. For example, the production is subtitled. So, for several at least, this is the first opportunity some of the students have had to literally "read" a film as a text. My decision to immerse them . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 07:31 PM and is filed under Film.
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March 20, 2006

Collisions over Social Issues in the Film "Crash"

Dear Convention-Defying Instructors,

When hurtful stereotypes and ignorant prejudices collide, a major accident is bound to ensue. Mao once said, "without destruction there can be no construction." I interpret this to mean that in order to construct (or re-construct), a positive deconstruction is sometimes necessary first . Crash is layered enough to do that and much more. If you have a class of top-level English students that seem open to receiving pop-cultural topics for writing and discussion subject-matter, you might have some success with this piece.

The film itself is a full two hours long and it took two complete class periods to show this film in its entirety to my class. Should you decide to screen this film, your students should be forewarned: It's certainly violent, graphic and has something to offend almost everyone. But, at the same time, some really important social issues are first toyed with and then brought to the surface. The narrative results in an amazing chain-reaction of hatred, prejudice and bigotry. Does hate fuel the uninformed and misguided opinions or do uninformed and misguided opinions inform the hate? In the third class period, I conducted a . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 08:11 PM and is filed under Critical Theory.
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March 02, 2006

Writing Students and the Holocaust: Reviewing "Process B-7815"

Source: http://www.zchor.org/auschwitz/picskomski/KOMSKI20.JPG


As several of you might know, I lived as an expatriate for many years overseas, primarily in post-Communist Europe, teaching, doing research and operating new businesses after the Berlin Wall came down in East Germany.

I made many good friends there including Mr. Bernard Offen - a survivor of the Holocaust - who has dedicated much of his life to giving, sharing, educating and promoting peace. I had the opportunity to learn a lot from Bernard and . . .

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This entry posted by lhobbs at 01:10 AM and is filed under Film.
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