Englert, FilmScene collab builds on diversity

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The Englert Theatre was doing what it’s always done, collaborating with other community entities, when it learned a key fact about Iowa City. The “other community entity” was the university, which had conducted a demographics study. The pivotal fact was the high concentration of Sudanese residents in Iowa City: 5 percent of the population, actually. Katie Roche, Englert’s director, realized people of color generally did not feel welcome in Iowa City’s arts community. So she sought more programming relevant to Sudanese people and other people of color. She sought out…

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REVIEW: In “Wild Nights,” Molly Shannon brings shades of SNL’s Mary Katherine Gallagher to Dickinson


The hilarious image of SNL’s Mary Katherine Gallagher will forever be what I see first, when I see actress Molly Shannon. The character of an over-eager Catholic schoolgirl trying dramatically and desperately to be the best she can be, at whatever she tries, eventually smashing into something nearby in a swirl of over-emotion expressed in a movie (or made-for-TV movie) scene, is dear to me, as it is for many Gen Xers who were SNL addicts during the Molly Shannon era of the late 1990s. I see glimpses of Mary…

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‘Saturday Church’ earns fans through teen’s self-discovery

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Cherry blossoms represent overwhelming beauty, the fleeting nature of life, and the feminine yet powerful. In “Saturday Church,” cherry blossoms help tell the story of a young African-American’s budding journey of discovering their sexuality and gender identity. The plot of “Saturday Church” helps illustrate the symbolism of these beautiful flowers, which comes mainly from Asian cultures and how cherry trees bloom and then fall off within a short time. This film is the latest installment of Pride at FilmScene, coming Monday, May 20, with a 6 p.m. screening at FilmScene,…

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AIDS documentary recalls heartbreaking activism

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Early on in the documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” activist Larry Kramer is shown giving a motivating speech to a group of young New Yorkers. He asks half of the large audience to stand up, then announces, “All of you are going to be dead in six months. Now what are we going to do about that?” I barely remember the first Bush presidency that started in 1990. But I do remember, as a very young girl, learning about a terrifying disease with no cure. I remember being way…

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REVIEW: Young lesbian love tested in “Rafiki”


A village in Kenya serves as the colorful backdrop for the drama that unfolds in the film “Rafiki” meaning ‘friend’ or ‘companion’ in Swahili. “Rafiki” is adapted from a short story by Monica Arac de Nyeko called “Jambula Tree.”  For a short story adaptation, the complexity of multi-layered political oppression, bigotry and a sweet first love come through in a rich and bold way.   “Rafiki” packs an emotional punch, (directed by Wanuri Kahiu) and like the similarly adapted short story to film, has much in common with “Brokeback Mountain.”…

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EDITORIAL: Leaving behind The Music Man’s “Iowa Stubborn”

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Remember these lyrics in “The Music Man,” that famous Iowa-based musical from the ‘50s by Meredith Wilson? “We can be cold as our falling thermometer in December, if you ask about our weather in July. And we’re so by God stubborn, we can stand touchin’ noses for a week at a time, and never see eye to eye. “But we’ll give you our shirt and a back to go with it, if your crops should happen to die. So what the heck? You’re welcome; glad to have you with us…

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