Athens, Ga. – A panel discussion on Quentin Tarantino’s controversial 2012 film “Django Unchained” will take place Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in room 248 of the University of Georgia’s Miller Learning Center.
“Django Unchained: A Roundtable Discussion” was organized by the UGA Institute for African American Studies in cooperation with the department of theatre and film studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.
The film is based on the fictional account of Django, an African-American slave in the antebellum South. Portrayed by Jamie Foxx, Django is freed by a German-American bounty hunter, played by Christoph Waltz. The two form a partnership that results in their attempt to liberate Django’s wife, played by Kerry Washington, from the brutal servitude of Calvin Candie, a sadistic plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Django Unchained” has received both accolades and criticism. It has a current Academy Award nomination for best picture; and Tarantino, who directed the film, has been nominated for his original screenplay. The film also has been criticized for its approach to American slavery, which has been the subject of discussion among historians and critics who disagree on whether the film’s overall impact is positive or negative.
“Any film that essays the subject of slavery, even as a backdrop for a spaghetti western-meets-blaxploitation homage, turns out to be ‘more than a movie,'” said Freda Scott Giles, an associate professor of theatre and film studies and a member of the Institute for African American Studies.
“What is the takeaway from this film? I do not know what to expect from the discussion, but I know that since there are very few frank discussions of slavery, and this is a season with two major films (‘Lincoln’ is the other) that center on the subject, this might be a good time to hold a discussion on the representation of slavery in these films and in media in general.”
The panel members, made up of Franklin College faculty, are Giles; Valerie Babb, professor of English and director of the Institute for African American Studies; John Morrow, head of the department of history; and Christopher Sieving, assistant professor of theatre and film studies. Richard Neupert, Wheatley Professor of the Arts and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Theatre and Film, will moderate the discussion.
“When Valerie Babb and I saw the film, we immediately thought that it should be discussed,” Giles said. “Some people say, ‘It’s only a movie.’ Others are concerned about how its audiences will view the history that contextualizes the film.”
The Willson Center Cinema Roundtable meets to discuss topics of film history, criticism and theory. Neupert, the coordinator of UGA film studies, organizes and moderates the roundtables.
Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research. In the service of its mission to promote research and creativity in the humanities and arts, the Willson Center sponsors and participates in numerous public events on and off the UGA campus throughout the academic year. It supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances. For more information, see http://willson.uga.edu/.