Bright Lights releases fall 2022 program

By Alison Sincebaugh

The Bright Lights film series, presented by Emerson’s visual and media arts department, recently announced its fall 2022 lineup, with the first screenings taking place on Sept. 22. 

The chosen films hope to shed light on various social justice issues through documentary lenses and narrative storytelling. The series strives to “create community through cinema and [welcome] both Emerson faculty, students, and staff as well as the general public,” according to Anna Feder, head of Film Exhibition and Festival Programs.

Screenings will take place in person at the Bright Family Screening Room, inside the Paramount Theater every Thursday at 7 p.m. All shows are free and open to the public with discussions and commentary to follow.  

Everything Everywhere All At Once,” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, will kickstart the series on Sept. 22. This dramatic comedy follows an unlikely hero who must use her powers to fight peculiar threats when an interdimensional rupture unravels reality. A discussion with alumni cast and crew is to follow.

On Sept. 29, “Fly So Far,” a documentary directed by Celina Escher will be featured. This documentary focuses on Teodora Vásquez, who served 10 years in prison for a miscarriage her government named murder. In a story of sorority, resilience, and solidarity, “Fly So Far” follows Vásquez working as a spokesperson for many Salvadoran women who are in prison for this “crime.” The film will be followed by a discussion on abortion access in the U.S. and abroad. 

See You Then” is a drama that focuses on a couple who catches up over an intimate and vulnerable dinner a decade after their breakup. Experience and analyze Kris and Naomi as they navigate themselves several years later as exes. The film will screen on Oct. 6, with a discussion with director and Emerson aluma Mari Walker to follow. 

Subject,” a documentary directed by Camilla Hall and Jennifer Tiexiera, will be screening on Oct. 13. The feature will focus on the ethics and responsibility of documentary filmmaking while revealing the impact commercial success has on the lives of actors. A discussion with director Camilla Hall and Ahmed Hassan, the subject of the film, will ensue after the screening. 

Salma’s Home,” a dramatic comedy directed by Emerson professor Hanadi Elyan, observes three Arab women living in modern-day Jordan. They must discard their cultural differences to work together in hopes of surviving the death of a family member. Elyan will facilitate a discussion after the film on Oct. 20. 

On Oct. 27, “Free Chol Soo Lee,” a documentary directed by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi that focuses on Chol Soo Lee, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant set in 1970s San Francisco. The story follows the racial profiling and murder conviction Lee faces. Years later, investigative journalist K.W. Lee takes interest in the case, shining light on a miraculous social justice movement. After the film, a discussion on the role and benefits of community-based journalists will take place.

God’s Country,” directed by affiliated faculty member and Emerson alumni Julian Higgins, is set to play on Nov. 3. This film is a thriller set in the snowy wilderness of the American West. It follows Sandra Guidry, a Black professor working in a rural college town, as she grieves for her recently deceased mother. On the day of the burial, Sandra discovers a mysterious red truck parked in her driveway which pulls Sandra into an escalating battle of wills. A discussion with Higgins will follow. 

Potato Dreams of America” is a dramatic comedy that follows Elena and her gay son, Potato, as they escape their turbulent lives in the USSR and enter a fantasy world of pirated American films. Soon after, Lena marries John, a much older and eccentric man. This mother and son quickly find themselves in for a lot of surprises. Director Wes Hurley and producer Mischa Jakupcak will partake in the post-screening discussion on Nov. 10. 

Mama Bears,” directed by Dareshi Kyi, is a documentary exploring the lives of conservative Christian mothers and how they are impacted when deciding to advocate for their LGBTQ+ children. Calling themselves “mama bears,” the members of this private Facebook group offer each other support during their struggles of overcoming the teachings of their evangelical churches. A discussion on support and advocacy for queer youth will follow on Nov. 17. 

Dec. 1 will feature a screening of “Neptune Frost,” directed by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman. The musical follows a group of escaped miners who form an anti-colonialist computer hacker collective in an attempt to stop the exploitation of Burundi’s natural resources and its people. A discussion with Emerson professor Wendy Walters will follow. 

Long Live My Happy Head” is a documentary that follows Gordon, a 32-year-old Scottish artist, who has been recently told he has an inoperable, incurable brain tumor. To share his thoughts and reactions, Gordon created autobiographical comics about his experience. On Dec. 8, a conversation with directors Will Hewitt and Austen McCowan will ensue after the film. 

Fire of Love” is a documentary that concentrates on Katia and Maurice Krafft, a French volcanologist couple, who lost their lives in a 1991 volcanic explosion, but left behind a historic legacy. Director Sara Dosa will be taking part in a post-screening discussion on Dec. 15.

Tickets to attend screenings will go on sale for each film at 12 p.m. on the day of their screenings, and can be purchased on the ArtsEmerson website.