In the lower level of the Michener Library two students sit at a table with two candy buckets and a signup sheet. The students smile at a student who walks up to sign in, pleased to see old and new faces as they kick off their first film of the semester.
The International Film Series screened the 2016 film “American Honey” on Thursday, directed by Andrea Arnold. “American Honey” is about a young woman named Star, played by Sasha Lane, who lives in a troubled home and gets invited to travel across the country with a team that sells magazines. The team is led by Jake, played by Shia LaBeouf, who brings her onto the team.
The film follows Star as she adjusts to life traveling across the country. Star’s life is very stop and go. She bounces from hotel to hotel, hustles for money and parties every night. She struggles to make money all while getting into a confusing, passionate love affair with Jake.
There are several themes present in the movie that can resonate with anyone today, particularly adolescents. One common theme of “American Honey” is dreams. Even though the main characters didn’t talk much about their dreams. Images of big homes in large neighborhoods and talk about making lots of money are littered throughout the movie to symbolize the American dream.
Another theme of the film is self-discovery. Mikelle Angiuli, a freshman psychology major, felt that Star was finding a way to take care of herself and finding out who she was through personal growth.
“She’s providing for herself,” Angiuli said. “It’s a journey of growth.”
Poverty is also a large element in the film. As the sales group travels across the country, they visit a great number of nice neighborhoods; they also use their shabby appearance to gain people’s pity and get them to buy magazines from them. In fact, there are several scenes where Star uses that to her advantage to make a sale. However, because of their appearance, Star, along with others from the group, are often turned away.
“I feel it’s really easy for people in society to make these people invisible and turn them away,” Angiuli said.
IFS’s general goal is to bring domestic and international films to the community. IFS Student Director Langston Mayo, a junior double-majoring in communications and philosophy, hopes to get people thinking. Not only does he want to get people thinking, but also to be aware of exactly what they’re thinking about and why.
“I want to make people feel uncomfortable, yet comfortable within themselves,” Mayo said.
According to Mayo, last night’s pick was the most entertaining and lighthearted film of the semester. The theme for the fall revolves around movies that discuss sensitive topics; some of the movies coming up will have student panels to host discussions after the film.
“I want people to take away something from art and learn new experiences, or respect new experiences, and for people to just learn and grow,” Mayo said.
IFS’s next screening will be “I Am Not Your Negro,” a movie about James Baldwin’s work on a book that accounts the lives of his three closest friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
The movie will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 and at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Lindou Auditorium in the lower level of Michener Library. A student panel will be held on both days following the film.
UNC International Film Series