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July 13, 2001

National Minority Film Institute Held at UW-RF
By Jolene Bracy
UW-RF News Bureau

For the second straight summer, UW-River Falls is hosting a five-week Summer Institute titled "Picturing America: Cinematic Representations of Americaıs Ethnic Diversity."

Funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute is designed to promote awareness of the representations of four major ethnic groups in film. The groups represented in this Institute are African American, Asian American, Native American and Latino American.

UW-River Falls is a four-year public comprehensive university of 5,800 students located in western Wisconsin about 25 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

This year 24 secondary education teachers from across the country are attending the institute. The aim of the Institute is to promote awareness of minority culture, ethics and values in film. Teachers of English, history, social sciences and film are selected to attend the NEH Institute through applications, essays, and recommendations by school staff and administration. This year over 300 teachers applied to participate in the Institute. The participants will develop their own curriculum based on the information they learn at the Institute and will involve promotion or reversal of ethnic stereotypes through film.

Summer Institute is directed by UW-RF English Professors Carole Gerster and Laura Zlogar.

"We examine how high school teachers can use film effectively to help their students understand both the ever-changing dynamics of America's cultural diversity and the role of film in shaping those dynamics," said Gerster.

Last year Gerster and Zlogar began co-authoring a book, "Teaching Visual and Multicultural Literacy in the Secondary Classroom." The book is designed to assist high school teachers with teaching multicultural values and visual literacy. Gerster said this summer's guest speakers are contributing essays and participants may choose to contribute their curriculum units to the book.

Nationally known guest speakers began addressing the Institute participants last week. The first speaker was African American filmmaker Iverson White who discussed his film, "Dark Exodus."

Vincent Rocchio, author of "Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywoodıs Constructions of Afro-American Culture" addressed the participants on July 10. The discussion of the representations of Asian Americans in film begins with a workshop hosted by author Gina Marchetti on July 16.

Scholars and filmmakers Rayna Green, and Jacquelyn Kilpatrick start the week of Native Americans in film. Last yearıs Native American speaker, Charlene Teters, Native American activist, returns with filmmaker Jay Rosenstein. Teters was the subject of Rosensteinıs documentary, "In Whose Honor?"

On July 30, film scholar Joaquin Alvarado will address Latino American images in film. The Summer Institute opened with an invitation-only reception for participants, their families and UW-RF guests on July 2.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has provided support for programs and projects that reach millions of Americans to preserve and study cultural heritage.

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