Students celebrate Black History Month with film festival

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Taipei American School’s annual African-American Film Festival took place from Feb. 23-24, with five movie showtimes spanning the two days. This year, director Jordan Peele’s blockbuster horror film “Get Out,” and the biographical drama “Hidden Figures,” which follows African-American women at NASA during the space race, were chosen as the two featured movies. Also on show was a wide selection of classic and recent films, including “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Help,” “Amistad,” “Remember the Titans,” and “Moonlight,” which won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture.
Mr. Richard Arnold, Upper School social studies teacher, single-handedly began the film festival in the 1980s, when the event served as a small part of schoolwide celebrations and activities to commemorate Black History Month. He says, “I think it’s critically important that we learn as much about diversity and inclusion as possible. I want to prepare TAS kids so that when they go off to college, they can have friends of all kinds, and appreciate art that’s not what they’re used to.”
In recent years, fellow social studies teacher Dr. Erika Soublet has aided him in running the event, as well as several of his AP United States History students. Claire Toh (‘19), one such student, says, “I chose to help out at the AAFF because many African Americans have to fight for what more privileged people in the world take for granted. I believe it’s important to let people understand how society treats African-Americans, and their struggle for equality.”
With the recent release of “Black Panther,” featuring a cast consisting almost completely of African-Americans, Mr. Arnold is already looking forward to the 2019 edition of the film festival. He plans to use the Marvel blockbuster as his featured movie, and hopes to expand the event to include Lower and middle school students as well.