‘Dear White People’ director to visit UK for free screening

By Anne Halliwell

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Late Night Film Series collaborations will bring two directors to screenings in February.

LNFS and the MLK Center worked together to bring “Dear White People” director Justin Simien to campus on Feb. 17 for a screening and question-and-answer session, said Alex Wright, who works with social media and graphic design for LNFS. On Feb. 20, “Liahona” director and UK graduate Talena Sanders will attend a screening and session in a collaboration with the College of Art and Visual Studies.

“Especially with a film like (‘Dear White People’) … you get to see a talented artist’s perspective. People walk out of movie theaters after they go to see a movie … and they can’t ask questions,” said Wright, who also works in the UK director’s office. “Now we can give them a chance to do that.”

“Dear White People,” which premiered in 2014, follows the story of four African American students at an Ivy League school, according to IMDb.

“I think it’ll be good in sparking a conversation about race in America,” Wright said. “And it’s quite a good film stylistically.”

Wright credited the MLK Center for their work in bringing “a director with that caliber” to the university.

Wright said that College of Art professor Sarah Wylie A. Vanmeter has collaborated with LNFS for film series in the past and suggested bringing in a director in 2015.

“We checked out (Sanders’) films and were very impressed,” Wright said. “She’s making really interesting, innovative films.”

The 51st New York Film Festival webpage describes 2013 film “Liahona” as an “experimental documentary examining the culture, history, and lived experience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the Mormon faith.”

The film, according to the web page, explores Mormonism and public perception of the religion, as well as religious landmarks and personal experiences.

According to her website, Sanders graduated from UK with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Montana School of Media Arts.

Wright added that despite the compensation for the directors to appear at UK, the films and subsequent question-and-answer sessions will be free for all participants.

Wright said Sanders was the first-ever LNFS film coordinator when the group began about 10 years ago. He said showing her how the student organization has progressed should be exciting for the current staff.

“Her story is a pretty fantastic (one),” Wright said. “She’s doing what she wanted to do, she’s getting to make films … it really does show that if you go to UK, you can go anywhere.”