WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Films that bring attention to the daily experiences of people with disabilities is the theme of the 18th annual February Film Series hosted by the University/Community Programs (U/CP) Department at Missouri State University-West Plains.
All films will be shown free of charge beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in the civic center theater during the month of February 2017, organizers said. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
“This year’s theme was chosen with the idea of inclusiveness in mind,” said U/CP Director Brenda Polyard. “We hope these films and the discussions that follow will give attendees an idea of what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.”
The series begins Feb. 2 with a showing of the Academy Award-winning “The King’s Speech.” The film, which stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, is based on the true story of the Queen of England’s father, King George VI (Firth), and his remarkable friendship with maverick Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush). When George unexpectedly becomes king following the abdication of his brother, Edward, Logue helps the king find a voice with which to lead the nation into war. Nominated for 12 awards, the film received the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Writing/Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Firth’s portrayal of King George VI in 2011. The film is rated R.
On Feb. 9, the series will continue with another Academy Award-winning true story, “The Miracle Worker.” Based on William Gibson’s Broadway play and retaining its acclaimed cast, including Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, Arthur Penn’s film tells the story of Helen Keller (Duke), an Alabama girl struck blind and deaf as a baby after an elevated fever. Several years later, her parents employ Annie Sullivan (Bancroft), a partially-blind woman who teaches Helen how to communicate through sign language after first separating the girl from her over-protective parents. Nominated for five Academy Awards in 1963, the film earned two Oscar statuettes – one for Bancroft for Best Actress and another for Duke for Best Supporting Actress. “The Miracle Worker” is not rated.
The series will continue on Feb. 16 with “The Soloist,” another true-life story starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. Directed by Joe Wright and written by Susannah Grant, the film tells the story of Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx), a former cello prodigy whose bouts with schizophrenia landed him on the streets after two years of schooling at Juilliard. A disenchanted journalist whose marriage to a fellow journalist has come to an end, Steve Lopez (Downey, Jr.) comes upon Ayers playing a two-stringed violin while wandering through Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The more Lopez learns about Ayers, the greater his respect grows for the troubled soul. How could a man with such remarkable talent wind up living on the streets instead of performing on stage with a symphony orchestra? Later, as Lopez embarks on a quixotic quest to help Ayers pull his life together and launch a career in music, he gradually comes to realize that it is not Ayers’ life being transformed, but his own. “The Soloist,” released in 2009, is rated R.
The series will conclude Feb. 23 with a sensory-friendly showing of Pixar’s Academy Award-winning animated film “Inside Out.” Featuring the voice talents of Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black and Richard Kind, the movie tells the story of a little girl whose emotions run wild when she is uprooted from her peaceful life in the Midwest and forced to move to San Francisco. Young Riley was perfectly content with her life when her father landed a new job in the West Coast city and forced the family to move across the country. Now, as Riley prepares to navigate a new city and attend a new school, her emotional headquarters becomes a hot bed of activity. As Joy (Poehler) attempts to keep Riley feeling happy and positive about the move, the other emotions like Fear (Hader), Anger (Black), Disgust (Kaling) and Sadness (Smith) make the transition a bit more complicated. “Inside Out,” which received the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2016, is rated PG.
For the sensory-frindly screening, the film will be shown with more lighting and softer sound to accommodate people who may not be able to go to a regular theater setting to watch a movie, organizers said. In addition, the theater doors will be open so viewers may move around and come and go as they please, they add.
Prior to the showing of “Inside Out,” a reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the civic center lobby to highlight area organizations that serve people with disabilities. Representatives from these organizations will be on hand to visit with movie-goers and provide information about the various services they provide. Everyone is welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information about the February Film Series, call 417-255-7966 or visit the U/CP Department’s website.