Filmmaker to Screen Documentary at Illinois Wesleyan

Dec. 18, 2014

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Award-winning director, producer and artist Esther Podemski will discuss her documentary The Peasant and the Priest prior to a screening of the film Jan. 15 at Illinois Wesleyan University. Podemski’s visit kicks off a new co-curricular program at IWU entitled “Reel to Real: Directors Discuss.”

According to a synopsis for the film, The Peasant and the Priest tells the story of two Italian men in their 80s whose ways of life have survived from medieval Italy to the present. Sergio, a sharecropper, uses ancient farming methods that have become overshadowed by corporate agriculture. Father Oreste fights the tide of sexual slavery, which grows each day as more and more women from Africa and Europe are forced into prostitution in Italy. Both men represent ways of life that are rapidly fading as the modern world closes in.

The film’s point of departure for exploring the two parallel lives is a 14th-century fresco, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Uniquely secular for its time, it tells a cautionary story of necessary struggles if a city is to establish and maintain a republican form of government. At different points in the film, the painting is cinematically activated to emphasize its political messages.

The “Reel to Real: Directors Discuss” program is an initiative of the International Studies department and the International Film Series. Scott Sheridan, director of International Studies, said this film was selected because it takes an interdisciplinary approach to rather disparate aspects of human experience – ranging from economics and business, to politics, history, art, cultural difference and social justice – and illustrates how they intersect in our globalized world.

Podemski will introduce the film and discuss her process of filmmaking Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Hansen Student Center, 300 Beecher St. The screening of the film and a question and answer session will follow Podemski’s remarks. The event is free and open to the public.

The event is supported by the IWU Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, and is part of the IWU programming series 3D: Diversity, Dignity and Dialogue. Podemski’s film and appearance are also part of the University’s intellectual theme “Walls and Bridges.”

More information about the event is available by contacting Sheridan.