Strong Women the Focus of Film Series

Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” -Congreve

The South Dakota State Art Museum will premiere its first movie on Thursday, October 9, to kick off their new series of independent films offered to students throughout the fall and spring semester.

The first movie to be presented is Portrait of Teresa, a 1979 film directed by Pastor Vega. The story takes place in Cuba focusing on the main character, Teresa who works in a textile factory and cares for her three children. Once she is granted the role of organizing a cultural program with her fellow factory workers, Teresa is forced to juggle her home life as a devoted wife and mother with her newly acquired duties outside the home.

The timeframe of the movie is a key element as Cuba in undergoing a transformation of social sexual equality. Vega’s primary focus revolves around the post-revolutionary male attitude in Cuba (referred to as machismo) conflicting with the 1970s wave of feminism. The idea of men holding a superior rank in society while the woman remains at home begins to dissolve when the contemporary belief that a woman must become more independent is introduced, encouraging wives and mothers to become active within the community and share her household duties with her husband.

Throughout the film, the director also addresses the double standard of infidelity among men versus that of women. Thirty years after it was produced, Teresa, remains an acclaimed picture as it captures the plight of the women in their struggle for independence while revealing the detailed lives of a struggling, working-class family.

Brookings South Dakota Art Museum Director and film enthusiast Lynn Verschoor is in charge of this fall’s film series. When asked why the topic of women in film was chosen, Verschoor explained,

“I’ve seen a number of remarkable independent films dealing with women. After examining the possibilities, I was excited at the idea of presenting films with strong female characters that offer a variety of cultural perspectives.”

Verschoor gathers her movie ideas from a variety of sources. Over the years, she has attended several independent film festivals across the United States. Along with searching the Internet and continuous traveling, she receives several catalogs promoting independent films from around the world.

To compliment Verschoor’s film expertise, a panel of SDSU professors partakes in organizing and deciding the semester’s film showings. Dean of Libraries Steve Marquardt and his wife Judy both serve on the board, along with Claire and Margaret Denton, Rural Sociology Professor Geoffrey Grant, and Women’s Studies Program Director April Brooks.

“When organizing the film panel, I wanted content experts as well as film experts to assist in the decision making process.” Verschoor explained.

In 2000, with Verschoor’s arrival at SDSU and the re-opening of the art museum, the film series was resurrected and again offered to students.

Past movie themes have revolved mainly around films created by independent directors. Last fall, the museum offered a series created by and about Native Americans.

The previous year, movies have been shown by indie film directors Jerry Barish, Dwight Frizell, and Jackie Comforty, who created a film about his family’s experiences when Bulgarians saved over 50,000 Jews from extermination.

The art museum films series receives funding from Clarence and Margaret Denton, the William and Harriet Gould Foundation, and the SDSU Office of Academic Affairs.

Verschoor encourages all students to attend,

“By showing these films, we give students an opportunity to see movies that they probably wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. This gives them a chance to enjoy the individual perspectives and insights offered by independent filmmakers.”

This month’s films will be shown on Thursday nights on October 9 and 23 in the basement of South Dakota Art Museum on the corner of Harvey Dunn and Medary Ave. Reels begin rolling at 7:30 p.m. and general admission is $3 ($2 for students with a college ID). Students are encouraged to stay afterwards to participate in an open discussion about the film. For additional information, call Lynn Verschoor at #688-4279.