Taiwanese New Wave

Below, we are excited to offer the first of a number of posts during the month of April dedicated to the topic of Asian and Asian-American film and culture, in observance of Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month.

Taipei Story. reddit.com. 22 January 2021, https://www.reddit.com/r/fujifilm/comments/idi4ye/still_from_taipei_story_1985_by_the_great_edward/

While achieving critical acclaim at various festivals and influencing many filmmakers around the world, the era of Taiwanese filmmaking later dubbed the “Taiwanese New Wave” (ca. 1982-1990) remains largely unknown to Western audiences. Following a period of mass censorship in Taiwan that had encompassed the entire history of film on the island up to that point, in many ways it was a first wave. Taiwanese New Wave is characterized by long, elaborate single-take scenes, bright city lights that threaten to swallow up the characters, and questions about modernity and cultural identity. Here is a sampler of the period in four great Taiwanese films (and one closely related, highly recommended Hong Kongese film).

A City of Sadness. IMDb.com. 22 January 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096908/mediaviewer/rm3610536960/

Widely considered the masterpiece of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, one of the most notable directors of the movement, A City of Sadness also serves as a handy crash course for those unacquainted with modern Taiwanese history. Unlike most “New Wave” film movements across the globe, the Taiwanese New Wave did not focus solely on the present but produced a number of films looking back into history, attempting to reveal how events had actually unfolded after decades of propaganda and censorship. The prime example of this is A City of Sadness (1989), which was the first film ever to address the White Terror, a 40-year period of martial law in Taiwan lasting from 1947 to 1987. During the White Terror, thousands of civilians were killed by the ruling party in Taiwan, the Chinese Nationalist Party, which itself was a capitalist defector from newly communist mainland China. Shot in great detail through Hsiao-Hsien’s distinct style of long takes with minimal camera movement, A City of Sadness is set in the 1940s and tells the story of a newly immigrated family as they become embroiled in the tyranny of the government.

The Terrorizers. senseofcinema.com. 22 January 2021, https://www.sensesofcinema.com/2018/cteq/smoke-gets-in-your-eyes-the-terrorizers-edward-yang-1986/

Like Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang is considered a quintessential filmmaker of the era. Yang is the co-writer and director behind The Terrorizers (1986), a mystery thriller about the ways different groups of people interact in the world and the small coincidences that make up our lives. While Hsiao-Hsien tended to film stories in rural and countryside areas, Yang’s films are uniformly set in large cities, most often the colorful urban jungle of the capital city of Taipei. The Terrorizers is no exception, following three groups of people throughout the city: a crime photographer; a novelist and her husband who is from the mainland; and a teenage petty thief alongside her group of friends. As the film unfolds, their fates collide with deadly consequences.

A Brighter Summer Day. IMDb.com. 22 January 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101985/mediaviewer/rm3432100097/

The technique of finding a perfect shot and then simply letting a scene play out within it, a style that quickly became emblematic of the movement, is at its most thoughtful and beautiful in A Brighter Summer Day. Just under four hours in length, it is a monumental work inspired by news stories that ran during Yang’s youth about a teenage delinquent who murdered his girlfriend. The film stars Chang Chen, in one of his earliest roles, as the delinquent, Xiao Si’ir, and documents his slow slide from model student to criminal, against the backdrop of 1960s Taiwan.

In The Mood For Love. IMDb.com. 22 January 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118694/mediaviewer/rm2378324480/

While Kar-Wai is a Hong Kongese filmmaker and sets many of his films there, his work has a similar vocabulary, and a lot of the same actors, as his contemporaries in Taiwan. Deliberate framing, vivid use of color, and a haunting violin theme played at the end of each sequence adorn In the Mood for Love, a quiet romance about a man and a woman who befriend one another and slowly realize that their spouses are cheating on them with each other.

What Time Is It There? IMDb.com. 22 January 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0269746/mediaviewer/rm301364224/

If, by chance, you have seen the slowly paced shots and minimalist plots of Taiwanese New Wave movies and enjoyed them, and like me have wondered “What if it were pushed even further?” then What Time Is It There? is the film for you. In a nutshell, the “story” is: A watch vendor in Taipei, whose father has recently died, sells a woman a watch that can keep two different times at once. The woman explains that she is going on a trip to Paris the next day. After that, the two occasionally think of each other as their lives diverge. And that’s about the extent of the plot. This movie may not be for everyone, but if you stick it out you may find it evokes a mood that is rare in other films, and poses some interesting questions about the one-way nature of time.

Guest blogger Simone Bassett has been part of the Media Services Desk Staff team for several years. Among other subjects, Simone is a student of Japanese and has studied abroad in Japan through IU as well.

Women’s History Month: Intersectionality

Abstract Lines Curves. needpix.com. Accessed 24 March 2021, https://www.needpix.com/photo/1182291/

In 1989, Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in her paper, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. Since its introduction, the word “intersectionality” has pushed the feminist movement forward. Intersectionality deepens our understanding of how multiple aspects of a person’s identity contribute to their experience on this planet. In a 2020 interview with Time magazine, when asked how to explain what intersectionality means today, Crenshaw said “These days, I start with what it’s not, because there has been distortion. It’s not identity politics on steroids. It is not a mechanism to turn white men into the new pariahs. It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.”

“The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another, the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw

Activist Leah Thomas champions the legacy of Crenshaw’s intersectionality with the movement for Intersectional Environmentalism. Working from intersectionality principles, Thomas aims to help others recognize that oppression of all peoples and the abuse of the environment are not mutually exclusive issues. According to the website for Intersectional Environmentalism, the movement is “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected.” Today, activists like Thomas all over the world have benefitted from discussions about intersectionality. Intersectionality influences all spheres of society, from law to art and culture to science; it has ushered in a new era of activism and understanding. Learning about intersectionality can be difficult. A quick Google search of the term provides many helpful, and some slightly skewed, ideas about the topic. With so much noise out there, it’s easy to get lost, especially if you are new to intersectionality. Here are six films that prominently feature the theme of intersectionality as it relates to individuals and the world as a whole. Also, at the end of this post you will find further web-based and print resources available at IU and online to help deepen your understanding of intersectionality.

Kimberlé Crenshaw: The Urgency of Intersectionality (Ted Talk, 2016)

Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by them all. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice. (Description provided by Films on Demand).

Crenshaw also hosts a podcast called Intersectionality Matters! (available on many of the commercial platforms that stream podcasts). A mix of one-on-one interviews and group discussions, Crenshaw utilizes Intersectionality Matters! to bring to light people’s lived experiences through the lens of intersectionality. This podcast is a great resource for those seeking to understand intersectionality on a deeper level and engage with important current issues.

Amá (2019)

Amá tells an important and untold story: the abuses committed against Native American women by the US Government during the 1960s and 70s. The women were removed from their families and sent to boarding schools. They were subjected to forced relocation away from their traditional lands and even to involuntary sterilization.

Jean Whitehorse in Amá. Amá Movie. March 19th 2021. https://amamovie.com/about#the-issue

The result of nine years painstaking and sensitive work by filmmaker Lorna Tucker, the film features the testimony of many Native Americans, including three remarkable women who tell their stories: Jean Whitehorse, Yvonne Swan and Charon Asetoyer. The film also contains a revealing and rare interview with Dr. Reimert Ravenholt whose population control ideas were the framework for some of the government policies directed at Native American women.

Over the twenty-year period between 1960 and 1980, it is estimated that tens of thousands of Native American women were sterilized without their knowledge or consent. Due to poor recordkeeping during this era, the number may in fact be much higher. Many of these women went to their graves without the public understanding that they suffered this incredible abuse of power.

The film ends with a call to action: to back a campaign to get a formal apology from the US government, which would then open the door for the women to bring a lawsuit. (Synopsis provided by Docuseek) After watching the movie, you can visit the film’s website to learn more and take action.

Pick up a DVD copy of this film in Media Services or stream this title with valid IU credentials here.

Dolores (2017)

Dolores Huerta in Dolores. PBS. March 19th 2021. https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/dolores-huerta/

Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet lesser-known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century. She continues the fight to this day, at age 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven children, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change.

He Named Me Malala (2015)

He Named Me Malala is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world.

She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund (Synopsis provided by Alexander Street Press). Learn more about the Malala Fund on their website. Photo credit: Malala Yousafzai with classmates at Oxford University. Malala’s Story. March 19th, 2021.

bell hooks: Cultural Criticism and Transformation (1997)

bell hooks is one of America’s most engaging public intellectuals. In this richly illustrated two-part interview, hooks argues that we can acknowledge the impact of media without denying our own agency or the pleasure we derive from popular culture. Rather than ignoring or denying the power of representation, hooks advocates for critically confronting the influence of the media in our lives. Photo credit: Cover of Bell Hooks: Cultural Criticism and Transformation. Amazon. March 19th 2021. https://www.amazon.com/Bell-Hooks-Cultural-Criticism-Transformation/dp/B00YYKO152

Vandana Shiva (2020)

Episode 8 of the series Thinking Existenz stars Vandana Shiva, the Indian physicist combining the struggle for human rights with the protection of the environment. She obtained a PhD in Physics at the University of Ontario in Canada with the thesis Hidden Variables and Locality in Quantum Theory. Shiva combines Quantum Physics with social activism to peacefully resist a socioeconomic and political system that she argues has colonized the Earth, life, and the spirit. She recounts how she started defending the forest, the seeds, and the local ways of life and production, against the registration and control of patents claimed by multinational corporations. Our civilization, to survive, will have to review its model of understanding and interacting with the world, taking as an example the holistic knowledge of the Chinese and Indian civilizations that, according to Shiva, survived history essentially because they differ from the Occident in the relationship they have established with nature (synopsis provided by DocuSeek). This film touches on themes of intersectionality as it relates to the environment, much like the movement for Intersectional Environmentalism.

While many of these films feature intersectionality in relationship to activism and personal identity, there are many more resources available that explain intersectionality and the effects of Crenshaw’s coining of the term. I highly recommend some of the resources below as a jumping-off point for further discussion and information on intersectionality. It is through the lens of intersectionality that we can build a better and brighter future for the planet and all of its inhabitants.

Further Web-Based Resources:





Intersectionality: Foundations and Frontiers

Presumed Incompitent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia

Age Matters: Realigning Feminist Thinking

Guest blogger Olivia Kalish is a Fine Arts student specializing in painting. She works at Media Services as part of the desk staff team.

Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Frida Kahlo

Photo courtesy Getty Images. Maranzani, Barbara. How A Horrific Bus Accident Changed Frida Kahlo’s Life. biography.com. 17 March 2021, https://www.biography.com/news/frida-kahlo-bus-accident

Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo was a Mexican surrealist painter who was inspired by Mexican history, society, and culture. At the age of eighteen, Kahlo was in a tragic traffic accident, which left her with chronic pain and medical problems after an iron handrail impaled her. It was while she was recovering from this accident that she began her painting career. 

Photo credit: Muray, Nickolas. From Oatman-Stanford, Hunter. “Uncovering Clues in Frida Kahlo’s Private Wardobe.” Collectors Weekly, 1 February, 2013. Accessed 17 March 2021, https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/uncovering-clues-in-frida-kahlos-private-wardrobe/

Kahlo was very involved politically and was associated with the Mexican Communist party, through which she met artist and future husband Diego Rivera. The two had an open relationship and both had extramarital affairs.

She spent the last years of her life in bed rest, battling pain caused by the traffic accident. Kahlo died in bed in 1954 due to a pulmonary embolism. However, there has been speculation as to whether she committed suicide due to physical pain and complications in her marriage. Kahlo’s legacy goes beyond the art world; she is remembered as an iconic figure for Chicanos, feminism, and the LGBT community. Her starkly personal works, rendered in an inimitable, unflinching style, are a testament to both her personal strength and the power of her artistic vision.

Frida. IMDb.com. 17 March 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120679/mediaviewer/rm4191984896/

Frida (2002), directed by Julie Taymor, is a dramatic film depicting the life of Frida Kahlo (played by Salma Hayek). The film follows her artistic development and focuses on Frida’s private life. Throughout the movie one can see Frida’s carefree spirit destroyed by the pain from her accident and her husband Diego Rivera’s infidelity. The film portrays some of Frida’s most famous artworks.

The Broken Column (La columna rota). Wikipedia.org. 17 March 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Broken_Column#/media/File:The_Broken_Column.jpg

Some of her early portraits, painted right after her accident, can be perceived as brutal and grotesque. They reflect her broken body and spirit, caused by the accident that left her bedridden for months. Photo credit: fridakahlo.org. 17 March 2021, https://www.fridakahlo.org/henry-ford-hospital.jsp

Photo credit: fridakahlo.org. 17 March 2021, https://www.fridakahlo.org/the-two-fridas.jsp

Her husband’s infidelity also had a big impact on her life. In the movie, Frida says to him to be “not faithful, but loyal.” This allowed for their open relationship and allowed Frida to experiment with bisexuality. In the end, Rivera is not able to be loyal to Frida.

Julie Taymor’s film does a great job of capturing Frida Kahlo’s pain, beauty, vulnerability, and spirit. I highly recommended this movie to anyone who wants to learn more about Kahlo’s life and her art. Frida (2002) is available for check-out at the Media Services. For easy access to the IUCAT item record, just click the film title link that appears just below the Frida film poster above. If you are in Wells Library, make sure to check out our Staff Picks shelf at Media Services for more movies related to Women’s History Month!

Isabella Salerno is a Media Services student staff member who studies Political Science, American Studies, and Sociology.

The Results are In: The Time for Reform is Now!

*(Editor’s note: Films marked with an asterisk below, among many, many others, were gifts from Jerry and Phyllis McCullough, longtime and generous donors to IU’s Media Services Department. The McCulloughs have made it possible for Media Services to share an incredible wealth of film resources with the IU and Bloomington communities, and we gratefully acknowledge their commitment and significant contributions. It is therefore with great sadness that we observe the recent passing of Mr. Jerry McCullough. Our continued thanks and sincere condolences to Phyllis McCullough.)

La Haine (1996). Director Mathieu Kassovitz. Producer Christophe Rossignon.

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most chaotic and unforgiving years in recent history. It was plagued with racial injustice, publicly visible white supremacy, police brutality, overcrowded prisons, corruption, and illness. Many Americans are looking at 2021 to be a year of change and enlightenment. A new president has been elected. As this AP article indicates, a majority of the American public sees the potential for a new wave of progress and reform in a number of major policy areas, top among those being law enforcement and the sprawling, inequitable American penal system.

Law Enforcement

There is growing concern within the US population about increased police brutality in the United States. Data shows that law enforcement violence disproportionately affects BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) individuals and communities. According to Mapping Police Violence, 897 people were killed by police in 2020. Out of those 896, 28% of the victims were Black or of African descent. According to the United States Census, Black people make up roughly 13% of the population. This means that Black people are three times as likely to be killed by a police officer than a person who is White or of European descent. Historians and other scholars are documenting connections between contemporary police brutality and enforcement practices from the slavery and Reconstruction eras, and they are publishing their findings in outlets accessible to the general public. US politicians and employers are under increasing public pressure to recognize and remedy racial disparities in law enforcement and other areas. A majority of Americans express support for change and believe the time for police reform is now.

Captured On Film

Nowadays, because of body cameras, the public can often see police interactions exactly as they unfolded, soon after an event takes place. Long before that technology existed, however, filmmakers were bringing the subjects of police brutality and injustice to audiences. Below is a small sampling of the films available in IU Media Services’ collections on the subject.

La Haine (Hate) 1996*

Directed by Mathieu Kassowitz. In this French film, three young, unemployed Frenchmen living in the ghettos surrounding Paris get embroiled in a violent conflict with the local police.

Training Day (2001)*

Training Day. IMDb.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139654/mediaviewer/rm1914941440/

Jake Hoyt, a fresh-faced rookie in the Los Angeles Police Department, gets a chance to join the elite narcotics squad headed up by 13-year veteran Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris. Jake is to prove himself during a one-day ride-along. As the day wears on, it becomes increasingly clear that Detective Harris has blurred the line between right and wrong to an alarming degree, enforcing his own code of ethics and street justice. Eventually, Hoyt begins to suspect that he is, rather than having the opportunity to join the squad, being set up to take the fall.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. IMDB.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5027774/mediaviewer/rm3298514432/

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon, an immature mama’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.

Mass Incarceration

In the same way that the United States’ history with regard to race can help contextualize contemporary police brutality, it can also be useful in understanding racial disparities in US incarceration rates. Ostensibly, a penal system is meant to rehabilitate offenders and send them back into society, having paid a fitting penalty for their offense, newly equipped with the social skills that prevent recidivism and capable of returning to the role of full citizen. In reality, many factors have come together to make mass incarceration a project with an entirely different focus.

13th (2016)

13th. IMDB.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5895028/mediaviewer/rm378735872/

13th is a 2016 American documentary film by director Ava DuVernay. The film explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;” it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. (Synopsis: Wikipedia.org. 13th (Film). 25 February 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_(film)#:~:text=The%20film%20explores%20the%20%22intersection,as%20a%20punishment%20for%20conviction). This film is not currently available at Media Services but can be found streaming online. See this interview with the filmmaker for more information on her work and this award-winning and Oscar-nominated film (category of Best Documentary Feature, 2017).

American Me (1992)

American Me. IMDb.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103671/mediaviewer/rm2379194112/

Inspired by a true story, this is the story of a vicious Latino prison gang leader, doomed by his past to a life of harsh, unforgiving violence after his release from jail. He grows up in East Los Angeles, joins a street gang and is in prison while he is still of an age to be in high school. By the time he is back on the streets again, he is a skillful, educated criminal.

Oz (television series, first season premiered in 1997)

Oz. IMDb.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118421/mediaviewer/rm1403175680/

Welcome to Emerald City, an experimental unit of the Oswald Maximum Security Prison or OZ. As run by Tim McManus and overseen by Warden Leo Glenn, Em City is about prisoner rehabilitation over public retribution. No matter how hardened a criminal or killer, whether you’re in for a few years or in for life, you have a role to play. Once inside, choose your friends carefully.

The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile. IMDb.com. 25 February 2021, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120689/mediaviewer/rm2225052929/

Death Row guards at a penitentiary, in the 1930’s, have a moral dilemma with their job when they discover one of their prisoners, a convicted murderer, has a special gift. Based on the book by Stephen King.

Media Services has many more resources to support engagement of these important subjects. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to visit our department home page to find contact information, additional blog posts, new film acquisitions, and a guide to our many streaming services.

Content for this blog post provided by student staff member Donovan Harden and Media Services Assistant Heather Sloan.

Kings and Queens: Drag History in Film

“Drag is all over the world,” sings the famous drag queen and reality television mogul RuPaul in a recent song, “Phenomenon.” While some readers might immediately know what and who I’m talking about, others might ask, what is drag? Drag is the theatrical performance of masculinity and femininity, usually with a satirical or gender-bending effect.  

AJ and the Queen. 18 January 2020. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8404094/

Though drag as we know it was popularized in gay bars and underground “ball” competitions, drag has become a global media phenomenon in the last ten years, due partly to the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Drag Race and its spinoffs—Drag Race UK, Canada, Thailand, Holland, and now Australia; the wildly popular Drag Race duo Trixie & Katya; RuPaul’s recent Netflix original AJ and the Queen—have not only brought the art of drag into everyone’s home, they’ve made drag synonymous with RuPaul. In “Phenomenon,” when Ru sings that “From Russia to the UK…Sashay, shantay you stay” (two popular catchphrases on the reality show), she stakes her claim as the queen of a global drag-media empire.

Drag Race supplies the subversive beauty of drag and the fun of reality television, but very little of the history and diversity of drag cultures that came before it. If you are interested in the art and history of drag queens and kings, look no further than Media Services at Indiana University.  (Click on title links below to view the full IUCAT item record.)

Paris Is Burning (1990)

Paris is Burning. 21 January 2020. https://filmdaily.co/obsessions/beginners-guide-paris-is-burning/

An award-winning documentary directed by Jennie Livingston in the late 1980s, Paris is Burning is perhaps the most famous film about drag and ball culture. The film served as the inspiration for Ryan Murphy’s Pose and “reading” challenges on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and it’s been featured often in our Staff Picks and Media Beat blogs. Paris is Burning highlights a diversity of drag performances in ballroom competitions, which often parodied the aesthetics of race and class as much as gender, as well as the hard realities and close kinships in which the performers struggled. Find it in the Teaching & Research section of Media Services.

The Queen (1968)

The Queen. 21 January 2020. https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/the-queen-drag-documentary/

The Queen provides a look into a lesser-known moment in drag (and gay) history—two years before the Stonewall Riots and twenty years before Paris is Burning, there was the Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant in 1967 New York City. The documentary illustrates an era of drag that emphasizes pageantry and “female impersonation” more than performances, like voguing, that the 80s ushered in. There is just as much drama as any drag scene, though, some of it involving Crystal LaBeija, a queen who would later become a drag legend and inspire RuPaul herself. The Queen is available on VHS through Media Services, and the 2020 restored version is available to stream through a commercial service.

A Drag King Extravaganza (2008)

We often hear about drag queens, but what is a drag king? This is the question that the 2008 documentary A Drag King Extravaganza answers. The documentary provides a look into the art of male impersonation, centered around the annual International Drag King Community Extravaganza. Along with thrilling performances, we hear drag kings describe their passion, isolation, and search for community and culture. This documentary is available for streaming through IUCAT.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

After learning more about the diverse history of drag, let’s dive into two cinematic romps that were inspired by and continue to inspire drag: the first is the playfully-titled To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. If you want to see Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, and Wesley Snipes in drag, on a cross-country road trip, and/or befriending Grease’s Stockard Channing and her rural community, then this is the film for you. Fun, heart-warming, and visually exciting, To Wong Foo is in the Media Services Browsing section.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

The Adventures of Priscilla. 21 January 2020. https://taggmagazine.com/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert/

This cult classic stars Hugo Weaving as Tick, an Australian drag queen who ropes two friends (a fellow drag performer named Felicia Jollygoodfellow and a transgender woman named Bernadette) into driving across the desert with him, in a lavender bus they christen “Priscilla.” The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and the costumes are even more stunning against the backdrop of the outback. Adventures of Priscilla can be found in the Media Services Teaching & Research section. JW

Guest blogger Josie Wenig is a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies and a Media Services student staff member.

Taking a Break, Part III: Step Into A Different World

Temperton, James, and Kamen, Matt. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – maps, tips and tricks to survive Hyrule. Wired. 22 November 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/zelda-breath-wild-tips-guide.

In this final installment of the “Taking A Break” blog series, we cover the many options for immersing oneself in a different world through computer games. Some worlds are whimsical, others are gritty, and still others are magical. In all cases, the visual effects are getting more sophisticated all the time. Scientists are now learning that computer-game play can have mental health benefits, including enhanced focus and improved executive function. Media Services has a selection of video games, with titles for game systems from the original Xbox to the Nintendo Switch. All synopses below are from IUCAT unless otherwise noted.

Pac-Man World 3: Pac-Man and Orson must put a stop to the plans of evil genius Erwin, who has created a machine that can penetrate the Spectral Realm as he attempts to dominate Pac-World. Includes features: vibration function and digital and analog control. Photo credit: Pac-Man World 3 Game Box Art. Wikipedia. 22 November 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man_World_3#/media/File:Pac-Man_World_3.jpg

Pokémon: Let’s go Pikachu! “The next step in your Pokémon journey starts here. Take your Pokémon journey to the Kanto region with your partner Pikachu or Eevee to become a top Pokémon Trainer as you battle other trainers. Use a throwing motion to catch Pokémon in the wild with either one Joy-Con controller or Poké Ball Plus accessory (sold separately), which will light up, vibrate, and make sounds to bring your adventure to life. Share your adventure with family or friends in 2-player action on one system using a second Joy-Con or Poké Ball Plus (sold separately). You can even connect to the Pokémon Go app* using a compatible smartphone to bring over Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region!” Game synopsis: Let’s Go Pikachu. Amazon.com. 22 November 2020, https://www.amazon.com/Pok%C3%A9mon-Lets-Go-Pikachu-Nintendo-Switch/dp/B07DHWCV38/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=pokemon+let%27s+go+pikachu&qid=1608658518&s=videogames&sr=1-1. Photo credit: Pokemon Pikachu art. Wikipedia. 22 November 2020, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a6/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pikachu_art.png

Star Wars: Battlefront II: In this sequel to the original Star Wars Battlefront game, you can engage in battles inspired by the Star Wars films. Fight as a Jedi, battle in space, and engage in massive online battles.” Photo credit: Battlefront II screenshots. starwars.com. 22 November 2020, https://www.starwars.com/games-apps/star-wars-battlefront-ii-screenshots

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour: Take on Mario, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and others in the Mushroom Kingdom. Challenge them to tournaments or take them on in character matches to collect rings or nab coins.

Katamari Damacy 塊魂: When the King of All Cosmos accidentally destroys all the stars in the sky, he orders you, his pint-sized princely son, to put the twinkle back in the heavens above. Photo credit: Katamari Damacy. Wikipedia. 22 November 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katamari_Damacy

Remember: it’s okay to take a break. Stay safe, get some fresh air, and enjoy some live music or social interaction. From Media Services to you, Happy Holidays!

This blog post is brought to you by guest student blogger and IU Media Services student staff member Duncan Hardy.

Taking a Break, Part Two: Escape to the Movies!

In Part One of the Taking A Break blog entry, I shared films that explore mindfulness and self-discovery. Sometimes, though, an escape to the movies is just the ticket. The complex world will still be there when we are done, and the positive emotions of a feel-good movie can refresh and revive our spirits. Below are some lighthearted, forgiving, comfortable, enjoyable, and pleasant movies to watch if you need this kind of break. (Film synopses from IUCAT unless otherwise specified.)

Robots (2011): With the help of his misfit mechanical friends, a small town robot named Rodney embarks on the adventure of a lifetime as he heads for the big city to pursue his dreams and ultimately proves that anyone can shine no matter what they’re made of.

Lilo and Stitch (2002): An evil creator has created a little creature by genetic experimentation. The creator and creature are sent to prison. The creature escapes and heads for Earth where he tries to impersonate a dog.

Bent on self preservation, this dog-impersonator plans to use a human shield to protect him from the aliens sent to recapture him. Earth girl, Lilo, adopts the ‘dog, ‘ gives him the name Stitch, and actually develops an emotional attachment to the little creature. Lilo’s dysfunctional family consists only of her sister Nani, but the two are about to be ripped apart by social worker Cobra Bubbles. Stitch, as the new family member, brings quite some action into all their lives, and after a while not even the aliens can recognize their former target.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune.

The Princess Bride (1987): A lowly stable boy, Westley, pledges his love to the beautiful Buttercup, only to be abducted and reportedly killed by pirates while Buttercup is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Even as Buttercup herself is kidnapped by a giant, a scheming criminal mastermind, and a master Spanish swordsman, a mysterious masked pirate (could it be Westley?) follows in pursuit.

In Part Three of our series, we will look at some computer games that can also be a fun escape, so stay tuned!

This blog post and the upcoming “Taking a Break, Part Two,” are brought to you by guest student blogger and IU Media Services student staff member Duncan Hardy.

Photo credits:

Robots. Robot City. 27 November 2020, https://robotcity.fandom.com/wiki/Robots

Lilo and Stitch. IMDb.com. 27 November 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275847/mediaviewer/rm3264851968/

The Princess Bride. IMDb.com. 27 November 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/mediaviewer/rm361795328/

Taking a Break, Part One: Find Your Breath

I think it’s finally time for us to allow ourselves a little break. Many of us have definitely earned the rest, but every one of us needs it. And although I say ‘let’s take a break’ I don’t mean flip on a YouTube video and tune out for fifteen minutes – an escapist’s abandonment of reality and responsibility. I intend merely to redirect your awareness towards your breath and your will in order to offer a few minutes of physical, mental, and spiritual refuge.

To begin, I ask that you join me in a simple breathing exercise. The purpose of this exercise is primarily to gently separate your present, conscious mind from the ‘monkey mind’, a Buddhist conception of the restless and agitated mental condition which concentrates both too hard and too fleetingly on sources of anxiety (bills, the current socio-political situation, school, personal and communal health, etc.). By separating the two minds one can find a tranquility that continues after the practice.

Here is the exercise:

Slowly and naturally deepen your breath. As you do so, find the path of the breath  as it travels through your body. You may observe this current in a few different ways: traveling up and down your spine, rising to the chest and returning to the stomach, or as if your whole body expands and contracts along with the pressure of the breath. Follow the current and let that cool sensation of calming energy spread throughout your entirety. Allow yourself to receive and experience any impulses, whether it be a tingling sensation, a color, or even a sound. Once your concentration has been embedded in this flow, try to preserve this feeling for at least 10 breaths. You need not maintain rigid concentration upon the breath, but you may enjoy or even feel the need to prolong this super simple breathing exercise to further calm the mind.

Although usually associated with traditions of the East such as Buddhism, Sufism, and Daoism, cultivation of the breath is found in most spiritual traditions, including that of Native Americans and early Christians. In the Yogic tradition, out of which the western world’s trendier hatha yoga practice arises, pranayama (breath control) is a method to purify the body, mind, and spirit. In my own experience, pranayama has been the most effective method for immediate stress relief as well as prolonged mental acuity and vitality. This is because the breath affects us on our physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Physically, the breath oxygenates the blood, causing our heart and brain to work more efficiently. Mentally, controlled breath can trigger cognitive states through the synchronization of the breath and brain waves. In practice, one can control their mental states through breath such that it is possible to self-induce feelings of calm and alertness (delta and beta brain waves respectively). Spiritually, the breath is the current of life from which we are animated. Controlling this breath unifies the mental and physical, and also beckons the transcendental. This breathing exercise is not an instruction for enlightenment, rather it is an invitation of divine healing forces through the acknowledgement of the self.

Meda, Karuna. How to Manipulate Brain Waves for a Better Mental State. Thomas Jefferson University. 26 November 2019, https://nexus.jefferson.edu/science-and-technology/how-to-manipulate-brain-waves-for-a-better-mental-state/

So if you found that worthwhile, or maybe surprised yourself at the power of focusing on your breath, feel free to supplement your interests with these films:

Yoga : The Divinity of Grace

“Yoga is the challenging study of consciousness itself, understanding one’s body, understanding one’s emotions, understanding one’s mind and beyond that, understanding one’s true self. Conquering the fretful disturbances of the world around, great thinkers researched deep into the self. This was an epic project, spread across many centuries. A science of life was developed. To help us to know ourselves better. To help us to attain the peace and joy which can be found within. Yoga quite literally means to unite our self with the higher self, which is in us and is all pervasive. It means to join the subject with the object. To do this, we have stripped away the many layers of momentary sensory perceptions, which assail our senses. These keep us forever bound to the material world. Our perceptions must be detached from the external world, to look within.”

Yoga: The Divinity of Grace. Films On Demand. 20 November 2020, https://fod.infobase.com/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=128488

Yoga: A Voyage in Search of the Self

“The city of Rishikesh, a center of great spiritual energy, is home to the renowned yogi Swami Chaitanya. This program introduces both hatha and raja yoga while observing Chaitanya meditate; perform a fire ritual by the Ganges; engage in shatkriyas, internal purification methods, including sutra neti and dhouti; and visit with sadhus and other spiritual seekers. He also warns against false asceticism. The goal of yoga? To make contact with the inner self and enter into the ultimate state of peace in which the soul rejoices.”

Yoga: A Voyage in Search of the Self. Films On Demand. 20 November 2020, https://fod.infobase.com/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=33904

Yoga: Mind and Body, Part 1

Yoga: Mind and Body, Part 2

Surya Namaskar Hatha Yoga. Prana Yoga. 20 November 2020, https://pranayoga.co.in/asana/surya-namaskar-hatha-yoga-sun-salutation/

“This course will enhance conventional therapeutic approaches and provide alternative methods to treatment. Course content includes breathing techniques, muscle strengthening and re-education techniques for the entire body, as well as pain and anxiety management techniques. These techniques are geared for clinical application, rehab clients, wellness programs, and home programs for many others.”

Yoga: Mind and Body, Parts 1 & 2. Alexander Street Press. 20 November 2020, https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/yoga-mind-and-body-part-1?utm_campaign=Video&utm_medium=MARC&utm_source=aspresolver

Namasté Yoga Flow

“Namasté Yoga Flow presents a workout that features a fluid integration of meditative motion with the creative energy of breath. The DVD enables practitioners to experience a unique and dynamic presentation of enhanced sun salutations that combines ways to strengthen and lengthen the body, and stimulates the mind to be alert, creative, and focused. In addition, the DVD explains and demonstrates that elements of the practice can be fused into a healthy, balanced way to function in all dimensions of the human experience.”

Namasté Yoga Flow. Alexander Street Press. 20 November 2020, https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/namaste-yoga-flow

Awake: the Life of Yogananda

I love this movie because of how authentic the life and teachings of Yogananda are. Somehow, documentaries, and this one especially, are able to capture the divine grace of people like Paramahansa Yogananda. This film details his mystical life and teachings, as well as the results of his work in bringing the ideas of Yoga to the western world.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda. Alive Mind. 20 November 2020, https://alivemindcinema.com/.

Becoming Nobody

“Becoming Nobody is the quintessential portal to Ram Dass’ life and teachings. His ability to entertain and his sense of humor are abundantly evident in a conversation that brings us around to address the vast question of ultimate freedom. Becoming Nobody represents the core arc of Ram Dass’ teachings and life: whether as Dr. Richard Alpert, the eminent Harvard psychologist, or as Ram Dass who serves as a bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies, he has defined a generation of inner explorers and seekers of truth and wisdom.”

Ro*Co Films. Becoming Nobody. 20 November 2020, https://rocofilms.com/becomingnobody/

Coming soon: In Part Two of Taking a Break, I will offer some lighthearted, forgiving, comfortable, enjoyable, and pleasant movies to watch if you need a longer break or a hearty laugh. Stay tuned!

This blog post and the upcoming “Taking a Break, Part Two,” are brought to you by guest student blogger and IU Media Services student staff member Duncan Hardy.

The Right to Vote

“Martha’s Vineyard Museum features suffrage exhibits.” MV Times. 17 August 2020, https://www.mvtimes.com/2020/08/17/marthas-vineyard-museum-features-suffrage-exhibits/

In accordance with the IU Themester of Democracy, this Media Beat post covers the most fundamental and crucial aspect of democracy: voting.

The United States has long been perceived by many as a beacon of global democracy. While the American democratic system has its strengths, we must also acknowledge its weaknesses. Discussion of our political systems leads to constructive critique and the strengthening, growth, and development of our country. 

Since its founding, the United States has often made its citizens fight for the right to vote, rather than granting the right freely and equally to all citizens. The privilege of voting that most of us have today is the result of decades-long struggles led by American citizens. Four constitutional amendments have expanded the right to vote to millions of Americans. However, modern obstacles to voting continue to suppress the votes of millions. Some of these modern obstacles include: voter ID requirements, voter registration purges, disenfranchisement of imprisoned people, and election day restrictions. These obstacles disproportionately affect Black and Latino Americans.

Below are some documentary films that explore the history of voting rights and suffrage in the United States. IU in-person resources continue to be limited in order to follow safety measures. But not to fear! Media Services has a plethora of online resources for your viewing needs. All of the films below are available through streaming with the use of your IU credentials.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 05 March 2009, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=8123#.

This 10-minute video gives a short background on two constitutional amendments that expanded the right to vote: the 15th and 24th Amendments.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 05 March 2009, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=8108.

Part of a series on American constitutional amendments, this short clip explores how (White) women were granted the right to vote.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 18 January 2011, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=42336.

Explore the events that created widespread support for civil rights and pushed President Lyndon B. Johnson to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 05 March 2009, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=8111.

This is another short documentary film which dives into how and why the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 13 September 2013, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=55119.

Two major provisions of Johnson’s Voting Rights Act were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. Explore how the SCOTUS case of Shelby County v. Holder allowed states to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965, resulting in citizens being stripped of their voting rights. Since the Shelby decision, several states have passed laws that disproportionately prevent minorities from voting.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 18 April 2013, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=50629.

What are some modern obstacles to voting? This episode of Moyers & Company discusses voting ID laws and how they have disproportionately affected minority groups. It also examines how rare voter fraud actually is.


Snapshot from film. Digital image. Films On Demand. 05 March 2009, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=8052.

Why is it important to vote? How do I register? How do I research what is on my ballot? These questions and more are addressed in this informative documentary film about how to be a responsible citizen and voter.


MOYERS & COMPANY: This episode dives into more detail about how the Shelby County v. Holder decision has led to voter suppression.

REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM: How is the American constitutional system setup to prevent democracy? To what extent is inequality ingrained in our society? Explore how wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of a select few.

WILLIE VELASQUEZ: This title covers voting and Hispanic Americans.

HOW WOMEN WON THE VOTE: In as early as 1838, some Australian women were able to cast ballots. How did Australia achieve female suffrage so early? Compare the Australian and American fight for equality in this documentary.

The fight to vote did not end with the passing of the 26th amendment in 1971. Universal suffrage is something that the citizens of this country are constantly trying to achieve. IU encourages civic participation through initiatives like the Big Ten Voting Challenge. If you are privileged enough to be able to vote, do not waste your vote. Participate in this year’s presidential election and all future elections (not just presidential!). In today’s environment, voting and ballot information of all kinds are easier to get than ever before. If you are a student with last-minute questions, start here: https://provost.indiana.edu/vote/index.html.

Isabella Salerno is a senior majoring in Political Science and American Studies. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, drinking coffee, and doing puzzles.

The History of US Foreign Policy

Man walking with a sign around his neck that says "Curtin Anderson, my son."
Snapshot from Who Invited Us? Digital image. Films On Demand. 13 April 2018, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=145758

Foreign policy has been in the spotlight recently. Tensions with China are growing as President Trump places blame on the country for its handling of COVID-19. American tourists are restricted from traveling to many countries. The Trump administration has pushed for Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel.

Are current international political tensions “normal”? It depends on whom you ask. There will inevitably be conflicts with other nations. However, leaders can control their responses to those conflicts. US foreign policy interests change with each President and also change over time. Having a President with comparatively limited foreign policy experience plays a role in the unprecedented times we are living in.

Although foreign policy is ever changing, we can look to history to get a better grasp on international relations. Below are some documentary films that explore the history of US foreign policy. 

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Media Services has a wealth of online resources for your viewing needs. All of the films below are available through streaming with the use of your IU credentials.

Who invited us?

Capitalism vs. socialism. The search for petroleum. Ideology vs. investment. Does US intervention help solve other nations’ internal problems? The documentary Who Invited Us? explores these topics and others while examining US involvement in other countries. From intervention in Cuba to Japan to other Latin American countries, this film addresses economic, political, and military reasons for US intervention abroad. This 60-minute documentary helps viewers gain a more nuanced perspective on world politics and US foreign policy in the 20th century.

Is America In Retreat?

Armed military officer in uniform outdoors.
Snapshot from Is America In Retreat? Digital image. Films On Demand. 30 August 2018, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=154861

Curious about US foreign policy in the 21st century? Explore US entanglement and policing in this film. According to this documentary, the political role of the US has been changing in the past two decades. How does this affect world order? American retreat from countries such as Syria and Ukraine opens the door for other powers to get involved. What happens when the US is absent from world affairs?

Now With Bill Moyers: Mark Hertsgaard On The World’s Love/Hate Relationship With America

Globalization vs. Americanization. In this interview, journalist and author Mark Hertsgaard discusses his own experiences while traveling and recounts several perceptions of the US abroad. Many other countries have a love-hate relationship with the United States, a relationship which has been under scrutiny in the 21st century, according to Hertsgaard. He believes that most of the world likes Americans, but that the American government can be problematic in the international sphere. This interview offers policy decisions in the last two decades that have been divisive at the international scale.

Headshot of Mark Hertsgaard being interviewed on a television stage set.
Snapshot from Now With Bill Moyers: The World’s Love/Hate Relationship With America. Digital image. Films On Demand. 05 March 2009, https://fod-infobase-com.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=32890.

Other Films to Watch

Media Services has a wide array of thought-provoking and informative titles on the subject of US Foreign Policy, past and present. The department provides ongoing media support to IU faculty and students, as well as campus entities like the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Our materials are also available to the greater Bloomington community with a Borrower’s Card. Below are a few more titles of interest. If you want to connect with specific media resources but don’t find them among our holdings, feel free to contact us!

American Umpire

Will the rest of the world crumble if the US ceases to police international affairs? Is there room for another country to take on this role? This documentary depicts how the US became the “world’s policeman” and presents viewpoints on how long the country can and will keep playing this role.

Witness To History: US Intervention In Latin America

This 15-minute program offers a short history of US-Latin American affairs since the mid-19th century. Gain a better understanding of American involvement in the region.

What Price The Drug War?

This documentary film offers insight into the War on Drugs on both a national and international scale. Learn how the American national drug policy was used to intervene in Latin America and expand US policy interests abroad.

Guest student blogger Isabella Salerno is a senior majoring in Political Science and American Studies. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, drinking coffee, and doing puzzles.