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Newly launched Feminist Film Club discusses the intersection of gender and film

Feminist Film Club formed this semester when Emma Klein ’17, a women’s and gender studies and film double major, realized she wanted a place to discuss the intersection of her two fields of study. Her own classes in the film department did not bridge that gap.

Klein recalled a discussion of the movie True Grit in one of her past classes. She defended a female character in the film and was met by a wave of dissent from many of her male peers. “We get a lot of perspectives of white guys in our [film] classes,” Klein said. “Sometimes our perspectives as women or as minorities aren’t respected.”

After bringing Jacqueleen Eng ’19 — a fellow film major who Klein thought would share her interest — on board as a co-president, Klein quickly followed through with the official creation of the club. Since February, members have met weekly to discuss film and pop culture as they relate to the issues of underrepresented groups. In a short period of time, Feminist Film Club has filled the gap of discussion that initially drove Klein to start the organization in the first place.

Meetings are held on Friday afternoons at 4 p.m. in the comfortable space of the Crozier Center for Women. Attendance has ranged from fifteen to five members. One of the club’s most popular meetings was a discussion of the upcoming Oscar awards. A particular topic of interest was members’ feelings on the Oscar nomination of actor Casey Affleck, the subject of several sexual harassment allegations.

Last Friday, the club began work on a zine, which will likely be distributed in the fall; a zine is a lower budget, easily producible publication intended for small circulations. Both Klein and Eng wanted something visible to come out of their new organization. They also both had experience working on WKCO’s own zine, so they naturally gravitated towards the format.

“The zine is a traditional platform for consciousness raising,” Klein said. “It seemed to make sense to incorporate that as an element into a club that was also dealing with pop culture and feminism.”

Several pieces for the zine are in the works: Eng is writing a review of the movie Raw, and the club’s vice president, Emma Tolley ’19, is writing a think piece about the whitewashing of Asian roles in Hollywood. In the future, Eng could see anything from essays to poems appearing in the zine, but all content will still relate to the topics of media and pop culture.

Klein and Eng consider an environment like the club to be especially important to have in a male-dominated field such as film. They would like to see more diversity not only in the industry but also in Kenyon’s film department.

“I hope that that this [club] will open up conversation about our film department and encourage more females to make films,” Eng said.

To that end, the club has succeeded in creating a comfortable space for that conversation. In a recent meeting, five of the club’s members sat on the floor of Crozier sifting through a pile of found images, quotes, articles and even old Collegian issues that Klein had brought for them to look through. They occasionally pointed out something they found in the pile; other times they brought up pop culture, an article they read or just events from their lives.

“Everyone is welcome to come and talk and express their opinions about pop culture,” Klein said. “Not necessarily the highest ‘French new wave’ cinema or anything like that. We can talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We can talk about problematic things on TV. We can talk about Hidden Figures. We can talk about Moonlight. We can talk about Broad City. There’s so many things that we can talk about.”