Asian studies program starts film series: Confucius to be first screening

Asian studies program starts film series: Confucius to be first screening

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The Asian Studies program at Drury is sponsoring a film series that welcomes all students.

The first movie of which, “Confucius”, will be screened on Feb. 15 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. in the Olin Library lower level room 002. Free pizza and drinks will be provided for all screenings in the film series.

The other two movies in the series, “Wheel of Time” and “Princess Mononoke”, are at the same time and place but will be held on March 6 and April 12 respectively.

“I hope that by coming to the film series students will learn to become open-minded in their approach to worlds that are in some ways very different from their own,” said Asian Studies Program Director Chris Panza.

Photo provided by Drury University

He said that with an open mind comes a better understanding of how an individual may view the world.

“Asian history, philosophy, religion and culture is so interesting, and the worlds that each opens up to us can help us to approach our own lives far more critically by suggesting different perspectives and ways of interpreting life,” said Panza.

“Confucius” is a biographical drama about the life, tribulations and philosophy of Confucius; a Chinese philosopher whose writings would greatly influence Chinese culture and philosophy. His teachings also helped to format and create Chinese religions and philosophies such as Daoism, Confucianism, Chinese-Buddhism and Legalism. Even communist China has utilized Confucius as a historical focal point of Chinese culture.

“For a number of years now the People’s Republic of China has tried to adopt Confucianism as a way of life for Chinese citizens to live by, so this film was the result of those efforts,” said Panza. “The government bankrolled a huge big-budget production highlighting his life and teachings. It’s a well-made movie. It even has Chow-Yung Fat, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Pirates of the Caribbean, in the role of Confucius.”

The series seems to be poised well for contextualized content since one of Panza’s specialties is in the teachings of Confucius.

“Wheel of Time”, the second edition in the film series, is a documentary by Werner Herzog about Tibetan Buddhism. Herzog covers the two Kalachakra initiations held in 2002. The Kalachakra is a Tibetan Buddhist rite. The film also includes interviews with the Dali Lama himself and 37-year-long freed political prisoner Takna Jigme Zangpo.

The last film in the series, “Princess Mononoke”, is a Japanese animated fiction about a wild warrior princess coming into conflict with an industrial mining town. It is a Studio Ghibli piece directed by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. It has a 92 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have widely lauded it as being a perfect marriage of story and visual prowess.

Panza sees this series as an easy way to introduce and explore Asian culture with students.

“People, me included, love to watch great films,” said Panza. “So it’s just an easy and enjoyable way get students to engage with the richness of Asian culture and the ways of seeing the world that make it distinctive.”

Drury students can, Panza would argue easily, minor in Asian Studies. The minor requires a whole year of elementary Mandarin. Starting next fall students will be able to take this language on campus. The rest of the minor is simply Asian History 109, and three other Asian Studies-approved classes.

Article written by Johan Englen

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