All Eyes On Influential Movies

By Marah J. Morrison

Youngstown State University’s film professors have spent a substantial amount of time watching movies and analyzing them as cultural text. Out of all of the flicks they’ve seen, some stuck out as particularly influential for people in the 18 to 25-year-old range.

Laura Beadling is an assistant professor of film studies and screenwriting at YSU.

While Beadling was getting her master’s degree in English literature, someone backed out of teaching the introduction to film class, leading her to take their place.

“One of the things that also happened in graduate school when I was switching over to film, I was taking some Native American literature classes,” Beadling said. “That really sparked an interest in Native American film.”

One of the earliest films that caught Beadling’s interest was “Smoke Signals” (1998), a film with a mostly Native American cast and crew.

Another was “Skins” (2002), which was directed by the same person who directed “Smoke Signals”, Chris Eyre.

“I think that everybody should see Native American films because most people are not aware of that,” Beadling said when referring to the existence of Native American films. “A lot of folks think that Native Americans disappeared and that’s not the case.”

Tiffany Anderson, an assistant professor in the Department of English as well as the director of Africana Studies at YSU, said that film interests her the same way books do.

“Now that I teach film, I look at it critically,” Anderson said. “I’m very aware of what the filmmaker is doing and the decisions he or she is making.”

Anderson said she thinks “13th and Selma” by Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” are both films that should be seen by college age individuals because of the historical aspect regarding racism and voting rights each of these films have. Anderson also has her children watch “I Love Lucy” due to its lightheartedness.

Mr. Arthur Byrd, who is a part of the Theater Department and teaches the history of motion pictures at YSU, said that “Schindler’s List” urged him to go to Los Angeles, California to the Museum of Tolerance.

Byrd is also interested in the film “Bowling for Columbine”. Byrd thought that this film was very interesting for people to see and to have a better understanding and a clearer stance on gun violence for their own benefit.

“’Do the Right Thing’ by Spike Lee is an important one to watch,” Byrd said. “And ‘Philadelphia’ with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.”

“The Big Short” by Adam McKay is another movie Byrd recommends seeing. Byrd said that this film is entertaining, educational and something that he may show to one of the two classes that he is teaching.

Film courses can be added as a general elective when scheduling classes for all majors.