Beyond entertainment, movies are powerful – they can transport, unify and enlighten. It is this power that the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s new series “Wide Lens” will tap into.
Through the use of movie screenings and panel discussions, “Wide Lens” will dive into topics related to race, immigration and the women’s movement. Rather than give a recap of current events, the series aims to widen the field of vision and ask the question “what more can be learned?”
“This film series is made for Brookline, it’s made for Boston,” said Raul Fernandez, the spark behind the idea for “Wide Lens”. “This is for those of us who think we got it, but there’s so much for us to learn.”
Wide Lens will kick off on March 21 with a screening of “Get Out” followed by a panelist discussion on race and micro-aggressions, which Fernandez, a Brookline resident and Town Meeting member, will moderate.
What has become a robust series started out with a simple email that Fernandez sent to the theater’s Executive Director Katherine Tallman. A lecturer at Boston University’s School of Education, Fernandez was unsure what, if anything, would come of his idea.
“I think it means so much that the theater is willing to collaborate with a single human person,” said Fernandez.
Though the Coolidge has plenty on offer in the way of programs, Fernandez’s idea jumped off the screen. According to Tallman, it aligned with the theatre’s mission to educate, inform and engage, and it offered a much-needed opportunity to bring people together for conversation and growth – something the theatre constantly strives to do as a community center.
When Fernandez met with Tallman and the Coolidge team, the first thing they all agreed on was starting with “Get Out” according to Tallman. The rest just seemed to flow.
The group has planned out the first three events in the series. On April 25 the series will continue with “The Visitor” and a discussion on undocumented immigration. Following on May 23, will be a screening of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” and a conversation about the impact of the women’s movement.
“We can learn from others, we can have our perspectives broadened from others,” said Tallman. “It just makes you look at yourself, how do I perceive the world?”
The act of watching a film and engaging with it alongside a group – those moments when audience members react to the film individually and collectively – is a great segue to the conversations that Wide Lens will cultivate, according to Tallman.
“This sharing that goes so far beyond what we are as individuals,” said Tallman. “I think it opens everyone’s mind.”
For Fernandez, who studies the impact of school segregation on the racial dialogue gap and teaches a course on diversity and justice in education, this shared space and shared experience is essential.
“If we do it right, which I know we will, this series is going to be about bringing people together,” said Fernandez.
Eager for the launch of “Wide Lens”, Fernandez and Tallman expect the series will grow and expand as participants share their ideas for where to take the program.
“There are so many stories that we just haven’t heard yet,” said Fernandez.