Penn Museum's Second Sunday Culture Film Series Explores Gender Across Cultures

PHILADELPHIA, PA 2015—Gender identities and issues in cultures around the world are explored in the Penn Museum's fall through spring documentary film series, Second Sunday Culture Films, co-sponsored by the 2015-2016 Penn Humanities Forum on Sex. The monthly series, October through March, takes audiences to Bulgaria, Hawaii, India, Mexico, and Nicaragua, presenting individual journeys of identity against a backdrop of differing cultural expectations and norms. Each film is introduced by faculty from the University of Pennsylvania and other universities, and followed by open discussion. All programs, free with Museum admission donation, begin at 2:00 pm in the Museum's Rainey Auditorium. The Second Sunday Culture Film Series is also made possible with additional support from the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the Trustees' Council of Penn Women, Penn Cinema Studies, and the William Way LGBT Community Center.

The series begins October 11:


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October 11

A Place in the Middle (2014) Heart of the Sea (2002)

A coming-of-age story is paired with an inspiring portrait for an afternoon exploration of the spirit of aloha, traditional Hawaiian values. Young Ho'onani aspires to lead the boys-only hula ensemble at her Honolulu school with the encouragement of her teacher, Kumu Hina. Hawaiian culture nurtures a bond between the two as each lives "in the middle." Next comes the story of surf legend and pioneering activist Rell Kapolioka'ehukai Sunn, whose athletic and environmental legacy remains in the waves that continue to crash on her hometown beach in Oahu. William Wierzbowski, Keeper of Collections, American Section, and Alexander Simafranca of the Penn Hawaii Club lead the post-film forum.


November 8

A Quiet Inquisition (2013)

In a medical clinic in Managua, a doctor contends with professional implications of patient care and her personal convictions regarding a new Nicaraguan law banning all abortions for any reason. Two Penn doctoral candidates, Annenberg scholar Tali Ziv and History and Sociology of Science scholar Rosanna Dent, whose research interests include Latin America, serve as the screening's facilitators. Audience members are invited to stay for a discussion with the film's director, Holen Sabrina Kahn and Alessandra Zeka. Presented by the Latin American and Latino Studies Program, the Trustees' Council of Penn Women, Penn Cinema Studies, the Penn Humanities Forum, the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and the University Museum Library.


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December 13

Mardistan (Macholand) (2014)

Notions of Indian masculinity are explored through several perspectives that cut across generations and social backgrounds in the Punjab region of India, providing a nuanced understanding from an insider point of view. A conversation with the award-winning filmmaker, Dr. Harjant Gill, and Dr. Amardeep Singh, Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University, follows the screening. Presented by the South Asia Center, Penn Cinema Studies, the Penn Humanities Forum, and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.


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February 14

Muxes (2003)

The indigenous Zapotec culture of Juchitán, Mexico, has historically acknowledged the idea of a third gender, believed to be personified by the community's muxes, or transgender women. The documentary focuses on a dozen muxes, shadowing them as they fulfill their traditional duties of preparing for celebrations, and participating in relationships that serve as sexual outlets for heterosexual bachelors. Their lives as career women are also explored. Iggy Cortez of Penn Cinema Studies introduces the film and leads the discussion afterward.


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March 13

Soul Food Stories (2013)

In Bulgaria, the village neighbors of Satovchka represent a medley of cultural traditions, political philosophies, and religious views. Progressing from a past of violent conflicts, the community has created friendly social clubs that gather to feast. The film follows meal preparations for the members of one male-only club as they attempt to navigate between their individual perspectives and a unified camaraderie, and the heated discussions that result. Meta Mazaj of Penn Cinema Studies and Bulgarian culture specialist Zdravko Tyankov lead the post-film conversation. This screening includes a closing reception.


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The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.

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Image captions, top to bottom: A Honolulu teacher and student embody the traditional Hawaiian belief in mahu - those who embody male and female spirits - in A Place in the Middle (2014), the first film in this year's Second Sunday Culture Films series at the Penn Museum, presented Sunday, October 11 at 2:00 pm; The Penn Museum presents the film Mardistan (Macholand) (2014) on Sunday, December 13 at 2:00 pm. As part of its Second Sunday Culture Film Series, the Penn Museum presents Muxes (2003) on Sunday, February 14 at 2:00 pm. The Penn Museum's Second Sunday Culture Films screens Soul Food Stories (2013) on Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 pm.

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