Page 1



Pesented by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arts Institute.

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE Introduction..........................................................................................................................1 Study Guide Overview.....................................................................................................2 Filmmaker Biographies....................................................................................................3 Documentary Film.............................................................................................................4

BROWN GIRL Background Material.........................................................................................................6 Discussion Questions........................................................................................................7

Cliff, Superfan! Background Material.........................................................................................................8 Discussion Questions......................................................................................................10 Connections Between the Films................................................................................... 11 Bibliography and Suggestions for Additional Resources.................................... 12


Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens Established in 1999, the Wisconsin Film Festival (WFF) is the largest university produced film festival in the United States with an average of 150 film screenings and up to 30,000 attendees. The Arts Institute, in partnership with the Department of Communication Arts, presents the WFF every spring. The Festival is known for its diverse film offerings: American independent, international cinema, documentaries, experimental and avant-garde, restored classics, the Wisconsin’s Own Competition (selections featuring Wisconsin filmmakers, themes, or settings) and Children’s Cinema: Big Screens, Little Folks. The Film Festival strives to make films screened during the Festival accessible for all audiences.

Screens for Teens: Film Outreach extends the value and the impact of the Wisconsin Film Festival by bringing films that enrich, entertain, and foster facilitated conversation directly to students in their own environments. By bringing a curated film, educational materials, and a Q&A opportunity with the filmmaker directly to schools and community centers, barriers are eliminated and relationships are made. Serving as ambassadors, Festival staff create a bridge between communities and the UW. This program reinforces the Arts Institute’s commitment to arts recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an excellent example of the Wisconsin Idea.

2018 Wisconsin Film Festival Big Screens Little Folks Study Guide


Study Guide Overview This guide provides background information and discussion questions for the two short documentary films selected for this year’s Screens for Teens program: Brown Girl and Cliff, Superfan! Both of them screened in the Wisconsin’s Own section of the 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival. UW–Madison student Violet Wang’s Brown Girl focuses on Gretchen Carvajal, a FilipinoAmerican artist and student. Through her spoken word poetry and printmaking, she examines questions of identity and belonging, confronting the past and present difficulties of feeling like an outsider in the country that she calls home. Diane Moy Quon’s Cliff, Superfan! follows Clifford Hayashi, Stanford University’s biggest sports fan. He’s attended over 4,000 games in the past 22 years, cheering on the individual members of every


Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

Stanford team like they were his own children. But Cliff isn’t just a super fan. This documentary reveals Cliff’s interest in Japanese American history, especially during World War II, and his deep personal connections to the topic. The background information includes suggestions for understanding, analyzing, and discussing documentaries, as well as more specific material related to the two films: spoken word poetry and the model minority myth for Brown Girl and the Japanese American experience during World War II for Cliff, Superfan! This information can be used to provide context for the films before the screenings. The questions can be used to help generate discussion with students after the screenings.

Filmmaker Biographies DIANE MOY QUON graduated from Ripon College and received her MBA from the University of Southern California. After a successful seventeen-year career in marketing in Los Angeles, where she worked for both NBC and Paramount Pictures, she returned to her native Chicago and began making films. Her first documentary, Cliff, Superfan! was funded through KickStarter and won a Golden Badger at Wisconsin Film Festival. Today, Diane works with Kartemquin Films and FilmArts Productions.

VIOLET WANG is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Brown Girl is her second film to be accepted to the Wisconsin Film Festival. Her first ever film, the short documentary Infurmary, about a feline dental procedure, screened at the festival in 2016.

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


Documentary Film Documentary film is usually defined by its special relationship with reality. In his book Introduction to Documentary, Bill Nichols argues that documentaries deal with actual situations or events in the historical world, and focus on real people who portray themselves and enact some portion of their lives on screen. People in documentaries are often referred to as the film’s subjects. To help them explore a topic, documentary filmmakers may incorporate materials like existing footage, still photographs, charts, maps, or other documents. While documentaries depict the real world and real people, filmmakers always make choices about how to construct a coherent narrative, portrait, or argument out of this material. They decide what attitude or approach to take toward their subjects, what events should be filmed or recorded, and how the sounds and images should be organized through editing. Documentaries can thus take a wide variety of forms and represent the world in many different ways. Bill Nichols has outlined six modes of documentary film. Though a single documentary can employ multiple modes, these categories are useful for thinking about how a filmmaker relates to their subject during the filmmaking process


Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

and how they present their subject to the audience.

1. The expository mode speaks directly to the audience through voiceover narration, explaining the situation or providing background information. This is the most common mode. Examples: An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006), Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock, 2004) 2. The poetic mode highlights the images and sounds of the documentary, emphasizing the style of the film through its visual or sonic rhythms and patterns. Examples: Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982), Rain (Joris Ivens, 1928) 3. The observational mode watches the subjects of the film in a real-life situation, acting as if the camera were not present. This type of documentary is sometimes referred to as cinema verite or direct cinema.

Examples: High School (Frederick Wiseman, 1968), Grey Gardens (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, 1975) 4. The participatory mode involves interaction between the filmmaker and the subjects, most often through interviews. Examples: Wormwood (Errol Morris, 2017), Sherman’s March (Ross McElwee, 1986) 5. The reflexive mode emphasizes the way that a documentary is made, calling attention to how the film is constructed or presented to the audience. Examples: Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929), Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012) 6. The performative mode stresses the personal viewpoint of the filmmaker, usually addressing the audience in a direct way. Examples: The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000), Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989)

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


BROWN GIRL Background Material SPOKEN WORD

Spoken word is a word-based performance art focused on the sounds of words and the human voice. Because spoken word is meant to be performed aloud, written form is less important than word play, and vocal intonation and inflection. It can include any kind of poetry recited aloud, and so has existed in various forms for thousands of years all over the globe. In the United States, spoken word poetry has been influenced by a number of important cultural and social movements, including the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, the Beat Generation and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and blues and hip-hop music. Spoken word competitions, called poetry slams, first appeared in the 1980s, and today the annual National Poetry Slam is the largest spoken word competition in the world. THE MODEL MINORITY MYTH A model minority is a particular racial, ethnic, religious, or other demographic group whose members are thought to have achieved an above-average level of success in life. In the United States, this idea is most commonly applied to Jewish Americans 6

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

and Asian Americans, particularly people of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian ancestry. Members of these groups are said to perform better in school, advance farther in their careers, win a higher proportion of distinguished awards, and earn more money than the average American citizen. The Asian American community has been particularly outspoken against the model minority myth. By perpetuating the stereotype that all Asians are hard working, intelligent, and quiet, this myth not only ignores important differences among the many Asian ethnic groups, it also makes Asian Americans seem one-dimensional, without any other human traits. Young Asian Americans, feeling pressured to live up to the model minority myth, experience higher levels of stress, and often suffer from low self-esteem and depression. Furthermore, because model minorities are thought to be capable of succeeding on their own, society ignores the racism and discrimination Asian Americans still face, and policymakers do not address the needs of their communities. The model minority myth is a subtle form of discrimination called a microaggression: a brief, everyday exchange that sends denigrating messages to an individual because they belong to a certain group.

Discussion Questions 1. What types of art does Gretchen make? What do you think she gains from working with different formats and media? Why do you think the filmmaker showed Gretchen working on each of these different projects? 2. What are some of the challenges Gretchen discusses in her poem? Why do you think she chose to address them through spoken word poetry? 3. The filmmaker could have filmed Gretchen delivering the poem uninterrupted, just to the camera. Instead, she chooses to intercut the poem with other scenes, and to show Gretchen performing the poem in front of a live audience. Why do you think the filmmaker made these choices?

4. Why do you think the filmmaker uses music in the way that she does? Do you think the music impacted your experience of the film? 5. Does the film help you consider or understand another person’s experience? How does it do that? 6. Gretchen talks about how the model minority myth has impacted her. Have you encountered other instances of this stereotype? What other microaggressions are you familiar with?

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


Cliff, Superfan! Background Material JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION DURING WORLD WAR II Though Japanese Americans have played an integral role in the history of the United States since the 1880s, they have also faced continuous discrimination. Immigrants from Japan could not become American citizens, and in the 1920s, they were banned from entering the country altogether. Through the 1930s, as war with Japan looked increasingly possible, antiJapanese sentiment grew, particularly on the West Coast, where there were large Asian American communities. Insisting that these communities posed a threat to national security, Western states pressured the federal government to take action, and on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the arrest of Japanese Americans as a “military necessity.� Through the spring and summer of 1942, Japanese Americans in Western states were forcibly removed from their homes, neighborhood by neighborhood. They were given one week to pack their belongings, and were then taken to an assembly center. Fifteen of these short-term


Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

detention facilities had been established at fairgrounds and race tracks, and so while they waited for weeks or months to be transferred to their final destination, many inmates lived in horse stalls and slept on straw mattresses. They were then taken to one of the ten relocation centers that had just been built by the newly-created War Relocation Authority (WRA). Located in the deserts and swamps of the West and Arkansas, these concentration camps consisted of blocks of barracks with communal bathrooms, laundry, and dining halls, all surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. The WRA ran the relocation centers like miniature towns, with schools, recreational activities, and even elections, which allowed some degree of self-governance. The inmates were also responsible for preparing and serving food, chopping firewood, planting gardens, and making furniture and decorations, for which they were paid $12 to $19 a month. Still, Japanese Americans could not forget that they were prisoners. They had little privacy, with up to seven people sharing a room. The food quality was poor, and the facilities were badly weatherproofed: sweltering in the summer, freezing in the winter, and plagued by dust storms in the desert.

Though the WRA began releasing those deemed “loyal” in 1943, Japanese Americans were not allowed to return to the West Coast until 1945. Many left the camps to fight in the war, proving their dedication to the country that had imprisoned them through their bravery in combat and their skill in intelligence work. Others moved east, establishing new communities in cities like Denver, Chicago, and New York. The camps closed down entirely with the end of the war. Japanese Americans were sent home, but many had lost their houses or farms and were forced to start their lives over again. The country as a whole increasingly came to see the incarceration as a mistake, and the important role Japanese Americans ultimately played in winning the war was used to help repeal the racist legislation against Japanese immigrants. Having once been seen as a blight on the country, Japanese Americans were soon being held up as a model minority.

Inspired by other social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, young Japanese Americans started the Redress Movement, demanding reparations for their imprisonment. These were granted by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided a presidential pardon and payments of $20,000 to each surviving former detainee. It is hoped that by making the wartime experiences of Japanese Americans better known, these kinds of governmental abuses can be prevented from happening to other groups in the future. TULE LAKE Tule Lake, located near the CaliforniaOregon border, was one of the ten Japanese American concentration camps built by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) during World War II. It was the largest WRA camp, containing a furniture factory, a shoe repair shop, a funeral parlor, a beauty shop, eight Buddhist churches, three Christian churches, four judo halls, a fish shop, a bakery, a tofu factory, a hog farm, and substantial areas of farmland. In January 1943, the WRA issued a loyalty questionnaire that measured inmates on a scale of “Japaneseness” to “Americanness.” For example, points were earned for being a member of the Boy Scouts, but points were lost for belonging to a judo or kendo club. Japanese Americans who scored too low on the questionnaire were considered “disloyal” and sent to Tule Lake, which Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


became the designated segregation facility. Tule Lake was chosen to house all disloyal Japanese Americans partly because of its size, but also because the questionnaire had been mishandled there, resulting in a higher percentage of its prisoners being designated as disloyal. Tule Lake was upgraded to a maximumsecurity facility, and its prisoners were denied the opportunities to negotiate and self-govern that were permitted at other relocation centers. After the prisoners tried to bring their grievances to WRA officials in November 1943, the camp was placed under martial law. Prisoners had a strict curfew, private residences were searched, and most daily activities ceased, leaving many people without work or income, and resulting in shortages of milk, food, hot water, and heating fuel. The leaders of the failed negotiations were imprisoned in the stockade for months without trial. Military control ended in January 1944, but it left many Tule Lake inmates with little faith in America and a strong desire to reconnect with their Japanese roots. It was the last of the WRA camps to close. Portions of Tule Lake have been preserved as a National Historic Landmark.

Discussion Questions 1. Does your opinion or feeling about Cliff change over the course of the

10 Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

film? Does the filmmaker want you to form a certain opinion about him? What roles do the structure and the content of the film play in helping form this opinion? 2. Why does the film’s title frame Cliff primarily as a “superfan”? Why isn’t the film called Cliff, Historical Researcher or Cliff, Computer Scientist? 3. What do you think about Cliff’s hobby of researching the history of the Japanese internment camps during WWII? Why is this research important? Why do you think the film takes so long to introduce this information? 4. What do you think about the role of Cliff’s mother in the film? Why do you think the filmmaker included scenes like that of the two of them walking in the park together? 5. What role does the filmmaker play in this film? Should the filmmaker be present in a documentary? 6. Many Japanese Americans think it’s important that stories like that of Cliff’s mother get told so that Americans can learn from their past mistakes. Are there other aspects of our country’s history that you think teach lessons to Americans today?

Connections Between the Films Questions 1. Did the films share any themes? 2. Both of these films are documentaries. What does the term documentary mean to you? What are the similarities and differences between how these films approach the documentary form? 3. Do these films meet your expectations of what a documentary should be? What mode of documentary would you classify these films as and why?

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


Bibliography and Suggestions for Additional Information Documentary Barnouw, Erik. Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film. Oxford UP, 1974. Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd ed., Indiana UP, 2010. “POV Archive Lesson Plans: Documentary Primer and Social Issue Doc Mini Curriculum.” POV, PBS. Accessed January 2018.

Spoken Word “Brave New Voices Festival.” Youth Speaks, Accessed January 2018. ☛☛Gretchen mentions Brave New Voices videos in Brown Girl. Gerard, Caroline. “Spoken Word Poetry Guide for Teachers.” TED-Ed, Accessed January 2018. Poetry Slam Inc. Accessed January 2018.

12 Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE

Model Minority Myth Chow, Kat. “‘Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians and Blacks.” Code Switch, NPR, 19 April 2017, codeswitch/2017/04/19/524571669/model-minority-myth-again-used-as-a-racialwedge-between-asians-and-blacks. Accessed January 2018. Lewin, Tamar. “Report Takes Aim at ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype of Asian-American Students.” The New York Times, 10 June 2008, education/10asians.html. Accessed January 2018. “Model Minority Stereotype for Asian Americans.”Counseling and Mental Health Center, University of Texas, Accessed January 2018. Wu, Ellen D. The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority. Princeton UP, 2014.

Japanese American Incarceration during World War II Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, Accessed January 2018. ☛☛This site, utilized by the filmmakers of Cliff, Superfan!, exhaustively documents the Japanese American experience during WWII through articles, videos, photographs, and an extensive cross-linked encyclopedia. “Japanese American WWII Incarceration: The Core Story.” Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, Accessed January 2018. Takei, Barbara. “Tule Lake.” Densho Encyclopedia, Densho, Lake/. Accessed January 2018.

Wisconsin Film Festival + Screens for Teens 2018 STUDY GUIDE


Profile for Wisconsin Film Festival

Screens for Teens Study Guide 2018  

An study guide for educators participating in the Wisconsin Film Festival's outreach program, Screens for Teens

Screens for Teens Study Guide 2018  

An study guide for educators participating in the Wisconsin Film Festival's outreach program, Screens for Teens


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded