Women’s history month kicks off with film festival

Two films featuring two very different perspectives of the war in Iraq will be the focus of the Women and Gender Studies 27th annual Film Festival on Saturday, March 13 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 156 North Foundation Hall.

The theme of the festival is “Women in War/Women on War.”

“Lioness” (2008), a film by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers, is a study of the emotional and psychological effects of war as told through the experiences five women — known as Team Lioness.

The women performed what were called lioness missions where female soldiers would search out women and children and try to communicate with and calm them.

Additionally, they participated in combat missions.

Technically, United States policy bans women from direct combat.

However, attaching women to all-male units forms a loophole that puts women in the line of fire to face the same dangers as their male counterparts — but with a disadvantage.

Because of the ban on combat duty, women do not have access to the same training as men.

“My Home — Your War” (2007) is a film by Australian filmmaker Kylie Grey.

It looks at the war through the eyes of Layla Hasan who lives with her husband and son in the district of Adhamiya at the heart of Sunni resistance.

Hasan cooperated with the filmmakers without the consent of the Iraqi government at great personal risk.

It is illegal to talk to foreigners without permission from the regime, and there are spies everywhere.

Hasan wants the West to know, that as an ordinary Iraqi, she shares a hope for peace.

“I want them to understand us, to see the human inside us,” she said. “We love peace and we want to live in peace forever.”

The program will also include a panel discussion with OU faculty members.

Dr. Flora Dallo, of the School of Health Sciences Wellness Health Promotion and Injury Prevention Program, is a Chaldean American who left Iraq with her family in 1979 at age 7.

Because her research focuses on the health of Chaldeans and Arabs in Michigan, she says she approaches watching the films from both a health and personal perspective.

Dallo, who has not previewed the films, wonders what emotions they will elicit and explains that U.S. involvement actually makes countries like Iraq more conservative.

“Anytime the United States enters a country to free them or to teach them about democracy … (people) retreat to what they know,” Dallo said. “They will hold on to their culture, their religion.”

“They actually lose their freedom instead of gain their freedom because they close up … because of fear,” she continued.”

Kellie Hay, associate professor of communication, has previewed both of the festival’s films.

She encourages film festival attendees to come with an open mind.

“This is not going to be just an American war story … this is going to be a critical look at war and its effects on women,” Hay said.

Also participating on the panel will be Patricia Wren of the School of Health Sciences and Marta Prescott of Columbia University.

Admission to the film festival is free, but registration is requested and donations are appreciated.

To register, contact Graciela Osterberg at [email protected].

See the trailers for both films and learn more about their feminist content at www.femadvocate.blogspot.com.