So far my New Year's resolution to blog more has fallen on deaf fingers. They don't seem to want to take the time to let all my good friends know what's going on. However, the last couple days have been really exciting so I am making myself share.
First, we had another snow storm in Mississippi.
(Image from the local paper, The Oxford Eagle). Classes were canceled Wednesday at noon and then all day Thursday. I spent that day watching events unfold in Egypt, waiting for Murbarak to say he was going to resign. I was very worried that he hadn't but it appears that he is gone. I was so stuck to the TV and to the media that I actually signed up for Christiane Amanpour's Twitter feed (just love her). Now, I'm on Twitter but it remains to be seen if I do more than read what's up with others. Kate, you are the second person I'm following.
Now that world and weather events have settled for now, I also had the fantastic opportunity to attend Oxford's premier winter event -- the 8th annual Film Festival. I had to teach all day, but once I got to my first screening at 5:15, I stayed until 12:30am. Note to self -- popcorn makes a very poor dinner.
The festival is still going on, and I'm planning on attending a few more events before the end. But, here is the beginning of my review.
The first film I saw was a documentary feature called, Southern Belle, by filmmakers Kathy Conkwright and Mary Makley (both of whom were in attendance). Though I saw the late night fright fest shorts later, I think this was the far scarier movie. It's a look at the Tennessee Athenaeum Rectory's "summer camp" for young women to play "southern belle" the eve of the Civil War. This place was a Girl's School beginning in 1852 and lasted for fifty years. As was typical of such schools, it taught the girls how to be a lady -- dancing, deportment, etiquette, and the "finer" skills.
Dixie and said "we never get to sing this anymore").
The earnest teachers who want to preserve this Southern viewpoint were probably the most scary. They were very nice, but completely deluded. For example, the leader of the camp who played the pastor, could not answer why they never talked about race (or why black girls would not want to attend). As part of a "history" lesson, he addressed the girls in character, informing them that Tennessee had just seceded from the Union and told them all the "good" reasons that the state had done so. (Tennessee was actually the last state to secede and there was a good deal of resistance about whether or not they should). The long speech he makes reminded me immediately about current debates about State's Rights and the far, far right's call that they are being unfairly pushed around by the Federal Government.
My dear Northern friends, this scene will in many ways confirm to you what you think about the South and that makes me a little sad.
Anyway, back to the film, the girls were fascinating characters and the filmmakers focused on compelling stories. But where there's race issues, there are also gender issues. And what happens to one girl in particular who returns the next year is a tragedy in my opinion.
The filmmakers said that the film will be shown on PBS this July. I'll let you know when it does.
More on the festival later....