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network 30/10/2015 - 12:00PM

What is scaring Cinema Politica this Halloween?

Image above: our scariest film still is of Rob Maguire from WAL-TOWN: THE FILM.

Late October’s Halloween festivities, with their kitschy invocations of scary ghosts and witches, pose an interesting dilemma to Cinema Politica’s programming. How can our local chapters embrace Halloween’s supernatural imagery while respecting the cultural significance of the supernatural in films like HUICHOLES: THE LAST PEYOTE GUARDIANS or AYITI TOMA: LAND OF THE LIVING? Moreover, how should we reconcile the joy of being scared with the scary reality of films like LAST CALL AT THE OASIS, BHOPAL: THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE, or DISRUPTION?

In response to these questions, we have decided to promote films that somehow connect to Halloween’s commodity politics, particularly around the issues of waste and appropriation.

Food waste and the global food shortage, represented in part by Halloween’s annual pumpkin massacre, are the main subjects of established Cinema Politica titles like DIVE! LIVING OFF AMERICA’S WASTE, THE FAMILY FARM, and NO LAND NO FOOD NO LIFE. In a similar vein, films like THE PRICE OF SUGAR address the politics of consumption and colonialism behind all of the sweet treats associated with Halloween.

Colonial commodification is a regrettable trend manifested in many modern Halloween costumes, and North American indigenous communities are a common target for these ill-informed cultural appropriations. We recommend screening films like THIS IS A STEREOTYPE or REEL INJUN to challenge the flawed assumptions that such Halloween costumes are harmless tributes to indigenous cultures. If you want to show films about the art and craft of costume, consider something like EXPOSED or THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING! because of the ways in which these films playfully politicize the act of dressing up (and, in EXPOSED, the subsequent undressing).

Trick or treat, indeed.