By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Staff Writer
In America’s present state, the arts are under siege. What has historically been realized as a vital aspect of our nation’s culture is now being denounced as a luxury, a waste of money that can be better spent on walls. How quickly our government seems to have moved from having a direct relationship, like when the FSA funded artists to document the Great Depression or when major Hollywood directors enlisted to help with WWII efforts, to a direct clash between “overrated actresses” and our president. It is a precarious time, indeed.
American and International film can give us a creative look into our past and present. Not only does this grant us a better look into how our society has shifted through time, but it also contextualizes the present world around us. At the University of Dayton, we are given the chance to do so through Roesch Library’s subscription to the streaming service Kanopy.
Kanopy is a streaming service created in 2008 for educational institutions. It offers over 26,000 titles to watch that “range from documentaries, indie and foreign films, must-see classics and blockbuster movies” and “encourages [their] users to challenge themselves to watch films outside of their comfort area.” Further broken down, the site offers many different categories of films that give light to experiences one would not normally find on other sites such as Netflix or Hulu – categories like:
“Transgender Visibility” – From the hit indie film “Tomboy” to the documentary “The Salt Mines,” where else can you find a list of 62 films that cover the trans* experience?
“Banned! Films From Countries in the U.S. Travel Ban” – “This Is Not A Film” was shot on an iPhone and shipped inside of a cake to the Cannes film festival in order for it to not be censored by the Iranian government. It deserves to be seen, along with all of the other films made by and about these people.
“Sexualization & Sexism – Gender in Media” – “Miss Representation” and “The Mask You Live In” are just two of 41 films that attempt to uncover the cultural norms of gender expectations.
“Classic and Contemporary Comedy” – Netflix is great for many things, but one aspect of film that they are sorely missing is that of early cinema. That is why it’s nice to see such films like “The Great Dictator” and other silent comedies that give light to that era.
Another major inclusion in the Kanopy site is the Criterion Collection. When it comes to the elite of the elite films, you can look no further than Criterion. Starting in 1984, this collection is “a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films” that are preserved and remastered for the sake future viewings. Kanopy is streaming 419 films from the collection, with films from master filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman (“The Seventh Seal”), Akira Kurosawa (“Seven Samurai”), Charlie Chaplin (“Modern Times”), Federico Fellini (“La Strada”), Jean-Luc Godard “Weekend”), John Ford (“Stagecoach”), David Cronenberg (“Scanners”), and endless others. If you haven’t seen their works, it’s not too late to be left Breathless from the 400 Blows the film The Great Beauty lands on you in 8 1/2 minutes.
The history of film is the history of the world and a look to the future. It allows one to travel through time and space from the comfort of a bed. We must take advantage of the great opportunity it provides us while we still can.
Photograph courtesy of The University of Dayton.