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February 15, 2005

February's Cohen Forum at CW's Kimball Theatre examines portrayals of women on the big screen

How women appear through a motion picture camera lens will be the topic for the 16th Annual Cohen Forum Thursday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 27. Hosted by the College of William and Mary, the Cohen Forum at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre brings together a diverse group of films, award-winning filmmakers and eminent scholars to reflect on how movies have served women’s history. All Cohen Forum events are free and open to the public; however, reservations are required and can be made at the Kimball Theatre or by calling (800) HISTORY.

Events scheduled for the Kimball Theatre are:

  • Opening Night Reception, Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. Join fellow forum-goers for pre-show conversation and hors d’oeuvres.
  • “Down with Love” with cultural historian Susan Douglas, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24. “Down with Love” tells the story of a spark-filled collision between a woman, Barbara Novak (Academy Award–winner Renée Zellweger), who has sworn off love, and a lady’s man, Catcher Bock (Ewan McGregor), who thinks he doesn’t need love. Rated: PG-13. This 2003 film revisits the Rock Hudson–Doris Day romantic comedies of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Douglas, chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, will introduce the movie and, after the screening, will explore why and how popular movies of the early 21st century might revisit the era of Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
  • “Boys Don’t Cry,” 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25. In the early 1990s in Falls City, Neb., Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) was a newcomer with a future in a small rural community. Women adored him and almost everyone who met this charismatic stranger was drawn to him. But Falls City’s hottest date and truest friend had a secret. Back home in Lincoln, just 75 miles away, Brandon Teena was a different person caught up in a personal crisis that had haunted him his entire life. Rated: R.
  • “Far from Heaven” with independent film producer Christine Vachon, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25. Cathy (Julianne Moore) is the perfect 1950s housewife, living the perfect ’50s life--healthy kids, successful husband and social prominence. Then one night she surprises her husband Frank (Dennis Quaid) kissing another man and her tidy world starts spinning out of control. In her confusion and grief, she finds consolation in the friendship of their African-American gardener, Raymond (Dennis Haysbert)—a socially taboo relationship that leads to the further disintegration of life as she knew it. Rated: R. Vachon, who produced both “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Far from Heaven,” will introduce the evening’s screening. After the film she will take questions from the audience and comment on how film producers think about portraying the past and about the particular challenges and controversies involved in depicting the women’s pasts.
  • “Tupperware!” with filmmaker Laurie Kahn-Leavitt, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. This documentary tells the remarkable story of Earl Silas Tupper, an ambitious but reclusive small-town inventor, and Brownie Wise, the self-taught saleswoman who built him an empire out of bowls that burped. Brownie was an intuitive marketing genius who trained a small army of “Tupperware ladies” to put on Tupperware parties in living rooms across America in the 1950s. Not rated. Kahn-Leavitt will introduce “Tupperware!”, show a brief segment of another of her films, “A Midwife’s Tale (1996),” and take questions from the audience about how filmmakers can make innovative and exciting documentaries about women’s history.
  • “Short Films by Women Film Pioneers of the Early Cinema” with film historian Jane Gaines, 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 27. In the last 10 years, film historians have begun to discover that a great number of women around the world worked as film directors, writers and producers in the early years of filmmaking. The numbers of women working behind the scenes in the film industry dropped rapidly with the coming of sound in the late 1920s, and it is only recently that women consistently have been able to claim a space again behind the camera. This show will feature a number of rare short films by early women filmmakers and will explore this lost past. Gaines, a professor of literature and English at Duke University who founded Duke’s Program in Film/Video/Digital, the Duke in Los Angeles Program in Media Arts and Industries, and the Women Film Pioneers Archive, will curate this show, comment on the films and outline her efforts to rediscover the work of early women filmmakers.

    For more information on Kimball Theatre programming, call 565-8588 or visit

    The Cohen Forum, established in 1989, is made possible by the generosity of Elliot E. and Helen Y. Cohen. Mr. Cohen was a 1937 graduate of the College of William and Mary. For information on festival events not being held at the Kimball Theatre, please visit the website,

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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