Teaching with Films

I finished up the semester having shown a few more films–at varying levels of success. Overall I found some real gems this semester that I think played pretty well to the audience of mostly freshmen and sophmores at 8:30 in the morning. From what I could tell the students really liked the chance to see some of these pieces that they had not seen. Plus it helped me reinforce the textbook and lecture in a reasonable stimulating way. I considered doing more in clas projects and assignemnts, but with 72 students it became clear that it’d be tough to do a lot of little assignments. Below is my take on a few more of the films that I showed this semester. I’ll cover the final group in one more post.

BBC Thread–website recomended by a WT reader (thank you!)
Films: “Green is the New Black” and “Katherine Hamnett”

The website shows short films about sustainability and ethical issues of the fashion industry. They’re about 5 mintues, and so I showed two. Both were good, but the students were unfamiliar with hamnett and her designs. They understood her points about textile workers working considerionts na where her clothes come form, but they seemed not terribly interested overall. “Green” was better received and promoted more discussion about organic cotton and ways to recycle and reuse clothing. The students did refrence the BBC site in their semester projects and some of them went back and watched many more episodes.

“I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA”
I watched this myself but decided not to show it to class. We ended up skipping the chapter about fur and leather, and, I thought the movie wasn’t that great anyway. The movie is graphic and more a study of one woman’s quest at either morals or fame (not sure) than truly about the animal issues. Also, it didn’t cover fashion very much specially as it was more about food production. It did cover a protest of Gaultier which I will considered showing in class but decided it wasn’t worth it. Many of the students did their personal projects on fur and watched Peta videos online. They were quite shocked, as is the intended reaction, and I am curious if they have carried over what they wrote about ethically in their papers into their personal lives.

“Secret World of Haute Couture”
This is the BBC documentary that PBS sometimes shows. I couldn’t find a good point to show it in class, but it is so well done I decided the best option was to reccomend they watch it when luckily it was airing twice on PBS and offer them an extra credit exam question. This doc shows the inside out of true couture shoppers, not the red carpet borrowers, but the society women who keep their heads low while they write the big checks and have the fabulous closets of gems. It’s a strong piece about art aprpeciation, exclusivity, and craftsmanship. I’d love to find a way to show it in future classes.

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