Laura A. Shamas

‘Older Than America’: Cultural Genocide and Reparations

Older Than America

One female-helmed film that directly addresses the horrific psychological, cultural, and spiritual legacy of Native boarding schools on Indigenous families in the United States is ‘Older Than America,’ a 2008 release, directed and produced by and starring Georgina Lightning, from a script by Lightning and Christine Kunewa Walker. … Rain’s journey is part of the collective story of her community and her tribe…

10 Women-Directed Films for Halloween

10 Women-Directed Films for Halloween

Are spine-chilling films always in demand because they help us dialogue with and about death? … In the past year, I’ve been focused on seeing films directed by women because I participated in the “52 Films by Women” initiative.

Sisterhood with a Capital “S”: ‘The Triplets of Belleville’

The Triplets of Belleville

Sisterhood is powerful, magical, and resilient: that’s the sororal message in the celebrated 2003 animated film… Character distinction between the sisters as individuals is not a major focus for writer/director Sylvain Chomet, although each Triplet has different functions/feelings at specific times. The bond of the sisters as a more monolithic force is depicted instead: Chomet presents the unity of sisterhood. … The agency of older women, including the eponymous trio, is vital to ‘The Triplets of Belleville.’

‘Older Than America’: Cultural Genocide and Reparations

Older Than America

Children are “the hope” of any culture. When entire generations of youth are traumatized or killed by the church and state, what is the remedy? ‘Older Than America’ looks for answers to this key question.

Alarming Innocence: The Terror of Little Girls in ‘The Crucible’


Miller’s examination of the Salem Witch Trials, held in the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1692-3, depicts the internal, secretive drive of a New England witch hunt, and how paranoia quickly escalates to devastate a marriage, a family, neighbors, and eventually, to cripple an entire community. The actions of little girls set it all in motion.

‘Laggies’: Mentors, Tortoises, Dads, and Growing Up


A Peter Pan syndrome, or in Jungian terms, the “puer aeternus” complex (forever young), is active here for Megan’s character as she fears personal and professional commitment; the term is “puella aeterna” for women. The appeal of this complex is to stay “forever young,” a girl-woman without adult-level commitments. Her complex is strongly activated by her friend Allison’s (Ellie Kemper) bridal shower and large wedding.

The Gaze of Objectification: Race, Gender, and Privilege in ‘Belle’

Movie poster for Belle

What does it mean in a young woman’s life to be constantly stared at and treated as “the Other”? ‘Belle,’ directed by Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay, has a lush, gorgeous look from the costumes to the landscape, and throughout this new film we, too, are invited to “look,” and to understand that “the dominant white male gaze” is related to power in 18th-century England. An actual 1779 portrait currently hanging in Scone Palace, Scotland, credited to artist Johann Zoffany, is at the heart of the complex ‘Belle,’ as is the issue of race.

2013 Oscar Week: ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’: Deluge Myths

Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild  Guest post written by Laura A. Shamas, Ph.D. Warning: spoilers ahead! With the Oscar season in full swing, many of the nominated films released in 2012 are in the spotlight again. Beasts of the Southern Wild is nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actress, Best […]

Gender and Food Week: ‘Bridesmaids’: Brunch, Brazilian Food, Baking, and Best Friends

Bridesmaids   Guest post written by Laura A. Shamas. The rituals of contemporary female friendship are punctuated with food and drink as signifiers in the 2011 comedy hit Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig. Many of the key emotional moments of the film involve food and drink. Intimate aspects of female friendship are revealed while eating; […]

Guest Writer Wednesday: The Princess Archetype In The Movies

The Hunger Games poster, Brave poster, Snow White and the Huntsman poster Guest post written by Laura A. Shamas. Originally published at Women and Hollywood, cross-posted with permission. What kind of “princess” is better off in the woods than at home? A princess who is more like the archetype of Artemis than of Aphrodite. In […]