The WCI Film Festival and Lecture Series, an annual interdisciplinary, student- and community-centered public humanities program, offers a selection of culturally diverse films, lectures, discussions, and celebrations surrounding a relevant theme pulled from popular culture and global cinema. Through various modes of engagement, we foster critical inquiry into real-world concerns through world-class scholarship, community partnerships, and experiential education.
The 2021 Festival explores one of the world’s most popular and enduring images: the vampire. Its folklore can be found on almost every continent, and it has inspired hundreds of films from around the globe, not to mention novels, short stories, plays, TV shows, fine arts, comic books, and more. Because it is so universal, the vampire has provided a powerful metaphor for prescient matters from Imperialism to the AIDS pandemic, BLM to #MeToo, arts and immortality to the death and decay of affect. As Bram Stoker scholar Nina Auerbach has said, “every age creates the vampire that it needs.” In this current age of cultural reckoning, resilience, and rebirth, the vampire comes to symbolize our individual and collective trauma and our strength as we rise to meet the new challenges that face us.
This year's Keynote is author/activist Jewelle Gomez, whose stories, novels, poems, plays, and criticisms center on the experiences of LGBTQ women of color. A devoted philanthropist, Gomez was the director of Cultural Equity Grants at the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Literature Program for the New York State Council on the Arts. She served on the boards of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation and the Open Meadows Foundation, both of which fund women's organizations and activities. She has also been a board member of the Cornell University Human Sexuality Archives and the advisory board of the James Hormel LGBT Center of the main San Francisco Public Library.
Gomez’s novel, The Gilda Stories (City Lights, 1991, 2016), which is being developed for TV with writer/director Cheryl Dunye as showrunner, follows the life of a black lesbian vampire, once a runaway slave, from 1850-2050. By reimagining American history through the metaphor of vampires and projecting a unique vision of its future, Gomez’s Gilda asks questions about family, power, community, and identity, about what it means to “take blood, not life, and leave something in exchange.”
We will also be joined by director Faye Jackson, who will speak with the audience about her vampire film, Strigoi (2009), a horror/thriller/mystery about the Romanian myth of the Strigoi.
The 2021 Film Festival will benefit the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York