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'Precious' screened March 2 at ASU

Article Published: Feb. 25, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Precious' screened March 2 at ASU

Gabourey Sidibe stars in 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,' to be screened March 2 at ASU.

In recognition of the upcoming National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Appalachian State University will be hosting a screening of the Academy Award-nominated film, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, followed by a panel discussion.

The panel will be analyzing both the issues that the movie presents and questions from the audience.

Precious is director Lee Daniels' critically acclaimed story of an illiterate and obese teenage African American girl, Claireece "Precious" Jones, living in Harlem, N.Y., in the late 1980s, who is victimized both by her parents and the poverty-stricken environment in which she lives.

The film has an all-star cast, featuring Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe in the title role. Precious was nominated for six Oscars, won three awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and received a 15-minute standing ovation at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival.

The movie portrays rampant and brutal sexual abuse (at the beginning of the film, Precious is pregnant for the second time from being raped by her father), verbal, mental, and physical abuse at the hands of both her parents, the pitfalls of underfunded and neglected inner-city public school systems, and self-image issues that plague many American youth. Although the surroundings are almost overwhelmingly bleak, Precious is truly a story about hopefulness and courage in the face of situations that promote just the opposite.

Suzette Patterson, assistant director for ASU's gender education and multicultural student development departments said that the issues brought up in the film are particularly appropriate for a dialogue about sexual assault.

"During the discussion, we plan to cover many of the cultural and societal issues in the film," she said.

The film screening and the discussion are sponsored by the campus Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the ASU Women's Center, and Multicultural Student Development.

"The idea of screening Precious during Sexual Assault Awareness Month originally came from a conversation during a Campus Coalition Against Sexual Assault meeting," Patterson said.

The activities that are part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2010 differ from years past.
"Usually, speakers come and lecture about the issues, but with this event we hope to reach out to an audience who normally wouldn't come to just a lecture," Patterson said.

The film screening will be just one of several activities taking place on campus during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

For many High Country residents, the event will be their first chance to see Precious. One of the reasons Precious was chosen for the film screening was because it has not yet been released on DVD, nor has it been shown at the movie theater in Boone, Patterson said. "We're bringing this film to ASU is because it's unlikely that it will be shown in the area," Patterson said.

Patterson said she also hoped to reach a broader audience than in past years by screening such a notable and talked-about film.

"This event is for people interested in seeing the movie, or those who are concerned with the theme of sexual assault, or individuals who are interested in multicultural issues," Patterson said.

While the membership of the discussion panel is not yet finalized, Tracey Wright, director of ASU's Office of Multicultural Student Development, and Dr. Amber Lyda of the Counseling Center have been confirmed.

Patterson said she hoped to have a member of the African American Studies program at ASU and a representative of OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Services, Information and Shelter) present at the discussion to have experts on many of the issues in the film.

"Because of the complexity of the themes in Precious, we want to have panel members that represent a variety of organizations," Patterson said. "There's a lot to talk about."

The panel will also be host to a discussion on the issue of race in the film in addition to considering the controversy surrounding both the movie and the book.

The discussion will begin with dialogue between the panel members followed by a question and answer session with the audience, Patterson said.

The film begins at 6 p.m. in the I.G. Greer amphitheater at ASU on Tuesday, March 2. The event is free of charge.

For more information about the event, contact the Office of Multicultural Student Development at (828) 262-6252.

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