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Understanding Themester 2022: The Reel You

The importance of self-identity can not be understated enough. Understanding self-identity is an intrinsic part of life, especially in a location like a university where students are away from family to better understand themselves. IU’s Themester for 2022 dives into the topic of “Identity and Identification”

“Identity is sometimes imagined to be a fundamental aspect of the self—an accounting of who or what one truly is. Anyone who claims an identity, however, knows identity is much more complicated than that. Race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, native language, socio-economic status, and myriad other identities shape our worldview: how we see, how we portray ourselves, and how we are perceived (and received). Identity can and does unite people under the banner of sameness, but it can also divide us from one another, and even from ourselves.”
-College of Arts and Sciences

Concrete ideas, images, or names often pop up when answering the question of self-identity. These ideas, images, or names that one identifies with can come from multiple locations, whether it be from family, hobbies that one takes, or the media that one consumes, through the internet or movies.

Film is a powerful tool that shapes and molds the identities of those who are still maturing. Through watching films, people are able to learn and understand different cultures and identify and empathize with the characters onscreen.

Here are some films in our collection that address the themester of self-identity and identification:

Moonlight (2016): The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

Image of the poster for the film Moonlight.
Moonlight (2016) IMDb. 16 November 2022. Available at:

It is also available on streaming.

Soul (2020): Joe Gardner is a middle school teacher with a love for jazz music. After a successful audition at the Half Note Club, he suddenly gets into an accident that separates his soul from his body and is transported to the You Seminar, a center in which souls develop and gain passions before being transported to a newborn child. Joe must enlist help from the other souls-in-training, like 22, a soul who has spent eons in the You Seminar, in order to get back to Earth.

Poster for the movie Soul, showing a cartoon image of a man and a cat walking on stairs that look like piano keys.
Soul (2020) IMDb. 16 November 2022.
Available at:

It is also available on streaming.

Fight Club (1999): A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground “fight clubs” forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.

Cover image for the movie Fight Club, showing a man holding a pink bar of soap with the movie's title on it, with another man behind him.
Fight Club (1999) IMDb. 16 November 2022.
Available at

A Beautiful Mind (2001): A human drama inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., and in part based on the biography “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar. From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash Jr. experienced it all. John Nash is a brilliant but asocial mathematician fighting schizophrenia. After he accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Cover image for the movie A Beautiful Mind, showing a closeup of a man in a tie.
A Beautiful Mind (2001) IMDb. 16 November 2022.
Available at

It is also available on streaming.

Wolf Children (2012):

Hana, a hard-working college student, falls in love with a mysterious man who attends one of her classes though he is not an actual student. As it turns out, he is not truly human either. On a full moon night, he transforms, revealing that he is the last werewolf alive. Despite this, Hana’s love remains strong, and the two ultimately decide to start a family.

After her werewolf lover unexpectedly dies in an accident, a woman must find a way to raise the son and daughter that she had with him. However, their inheritance of their father’s traits prove to be a challenge for her. The stress of raising her wild-natured children in a densely populated city, all while keeping their identity a secret, culminates in a decision to move to the countryside, where she hopes Ame and Yuki can live a life free from the judgments of society. Wolf Children is the heartwarming story about the challenges of being a single mother in an unforgiving modern world.

Cover image for the movie Wolf Children, showing an animated drawing of a young woman holding two children with wolf tails.
Wolf Children (2012) MAL. 16 November 2022. Available at

*Note: Streaming links are only available to IU Bloomington Students and Faculty

Richard Wu is a junior studying piano performance at the Jacobs School of Music. This is his third semester at Media Services.

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