Ragtag Cinema screens films in response to Ferguson

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COLUMBIA - Ragtag Cinema started its Wide Angle Film Series Tuesday, which screens films to show the history of racial discourse in our country.

This year's series is part of a response to the movement emerging out of Ferguson, Missouri.

This three-day event is free and open to the public. There will be three films screened from three different decades, starting from the 1960s. After each screening, a community group leader leads a discussion on the subject.

Executive Director Tracy Lane said they hope to educate community members on this issue through the art of film.

"We're hopeful that this won't be just an event where people watch a few films and they express their opinions and then nothing changes," Lane said. "We're hopeful that we'll be a part of a bigger movement that's going on nationwide, and to encourage legislators to think about the system and how it works and how it could work better."

Lane said the discussions after each screenings are an opportunity for people to share their opinions.

"It's important to us that people have the opportunity, a peaceful place, to express their views and hear the views of others...and encourage wisdom on both sides for people to see the big picture," Lane said. "I think that we can also be one of those elements that could perhaps inspire some change."

Each film will be screened at 6 p.m. on the following days:

Tuesday, Dec. 2
"48 Hrs"
Wednesday, Dec. 3

"Mizzou: Black and Bold," a short documentary on what it's like to attend Mizzou as a black student, will be shown before "Troublemakers" on Dec. 3. 

Programmer for Ragtag Cinema Chris Boeckmann said films like "Wattstax" are still applicable today, despite being filmed in the 1960s.

"It feels as if it could've been recorded today," Boeckmann said. "A lot of the lines are kind of alarming to listen to in 2014. Especially since there is all these protests taking place across the country."

Boeckmann said one of the things Ragtag Cinema is hoping to do with this series is localize the issue of racial discourse and institutional racism.

"I think maybe you watch these movies and it's a little alarming to see how similar the dialogue in them is to how it is today," Boeckmann said. "A movie is not going to solve any problems but hopefully it generates some healthy discussion. I hope that people come in and they learn something from listening to certain conversations."

One Columbia resident, Mike Rowsom, said he thinks it's a timely sequence Ragtag Cinema is doing this week.

"It's been going on since the 60s," Rowsom said in reference to racial discourse. "We're still having issues, we still have problems with that. And that's unfortunate...from when I was in grade school...some things haven't changed."

Ragtag Cinema kicked off its Wide Angle Series Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. The four film series is a response to the racial discourse in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown. (KOMU/Jordon Shultz)

Desi Long (left), Jeanne Murphy (center), and Dennis Murphy (right) wait on a bench outside the theater on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. The group came to see the free screening of 48 Hrs., the first film of Ragtag Cinema's Wide Angle Series. (KOMU/Jordon Shultz)

People start to fill the theater at Ragtag Cinema for the 6 p.m. screening of 48 Hrs. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. Starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, the 1982 film depicts the struggle of two men through a relationship marked by racial tension. (KOMU/Jordon Shultz)