By Sam Blakley ‘16
Brevard College’s Campus Life, in partnership with the Institute for Women in Leadership and Pride Club, host a screening of “The Mask You Live In,” a feature film from award-winning director Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Wednesday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. in Dunham Hall.
A Q&A discussion lead by students and campus organizers will follow the film. The event is free and open to the public.
“This documentary really touches on the topic of identity,” said Gabby Mellendorf, director of community and volunteer services. “Our society has, over time, created this identity of what boys and men should look like and act like. This specific identity doesn’t allow for individuality. This documentary is a great opportunity for Brevard College students to start the conversations about their own identity and to think about the masks that they are wearing.”
“The Mask You Live In” is the second documentary showing by IWIL this year. Last semester, the group hosted “Girl Rising,” which focused on changing attitudes and organizing investment in girls’ education and empowerment around the world.
“The Mask You Live In” follows boys and young men in their struggle to stay true to themselves while navigating what the film determines as America’s narrow definition of masculinity. These youth face pressures from social media, peers, and even the adults in their lives, according to the film’s website. Boys regularly must confront messages “encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence.”
According to the film, these gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men.
Newsom wrote, directed, and produced the 2011 award-winning documentary, “Miss Representation.” As a result of that film’s powerful impact, she launched The Representation Project, a non-profit organization that uses film and media as a catalyst for cultural transformation. Her second film, “The Mask You Live In,” had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film has received praise for being “thought-provoking,” “powerful,” and a “must watch.”
“’The Mask’ is an important movie for students to see because it tells a different side of the story,” said Stepheny Hine, member of the IWIL program and a student organizer at BC. “So often we are charged with thinking about sexual assault, but we see it as a women’s issue. Sexual assault is not a women’s issue. One in 10 men during their college education also experience sexual assault. But it’s not about gender. It’s about addressing the issue of cultural institutionalized masculinity and what that means. In order to take steps to solving the culture around sexual violence we have to look at the culture around gender. This film aims to do that.”