Social Justice Film Series bursts the bubble

Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Mar¡a Alvarez, a pregnant Colombian teenager who gets caught up in the drug world..
Kirsten Rusinak

Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Mar¡a Alvarez, a pregnant Colombian teenager who gets caught up in the drug world.. (

Fast-paced trimesters do not leave much room for life outside of Lawrence, yet the Social Justice Film Series put on by the Volunteer and Community Service Center is one way to escape the bubble.
Laura Milewski, Social Justice Programmer for the VCSC and driving force behind the series, said, “It’s important for [students] to realize that there are things going on outside of campus, Appleton, and the United States.” Social justice, she says, is often kept quiet.
Many of the films are documentaries, which reinforces Milewski’s overall theme of social justice in various situations both home and abroad.
So far, six films have been shown, including “An Inconvenient Truth,” “City of God,” “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” and “Bloody Sunday.”
“The movies run the spectrum from dealing with the AIDS crisis not only in Africa but all over the world, to the injustices of some big corporations, to the immediate need to do something to save our wonderful planet,” said Milewski.
Believe it or not, the films do make an impact.
Milewski recalled one student who was so moved by Al Gore’s message in “An Inconvenient Truth” about the effects of global warming on storm and hurricane patterns as related to the Katrina crisis that she immediately signed up for the Habitat for Humanity and VCSC spring break trip to New Orleans.
“How amazing is that!?” exclaimed Milewski.
As a senior at Lawrence, Milewski understands the stressed-out college student. She believes that films are great study breaks, because they, unlike visiting speakers, are noncommittal.
In addition, she explains that films are less intimidating than speakers, because all the information is “not coming from one particular source . more people and opinions are involved.”
Milewski’s personal mission parallels the mission of the VCSC: to help as many people as she possibly can. She hopes that “everyone can make at least one [film] to learn something about a part of the world or an issue that they never thought much about in the past.”
She adds that a campus environment is a perfect place to spread the message because it reaches even more people when students return home and discuss what they’ve seen.
Milewski admits that like most Lawrence students, she has never been personally affected by the issues presented in her film series, but that her connection lies in spreading the message to others.
She feels grateful to be able to put on the series for the VCSC because it is something she would want to organize on her own, and the center provides her with the funding.
Only three more films are left in the series: “Maria Full of Grace,” “Bread and Roses,” and “Gandhi.” The films cover the topics of the drug market, labor unions, and nonviolent protest, respectively.
All viewings are free of charge and open to students and the public. If you would like to be put on the e-mail list for information about upcoming films, send the VCSC an e-mail or sign up at the next viewing.
No formal discussion immediately follows the showing of the films, leaving students responsible to start a dialogue.”Maria Full of Grace” Wed., May 2
“Bread and Roses” Fri., May 18
“Gandhi” TBA

Catalina Sandino Moreno plays María Álvarez, a pregnant Colombian teenager who gets caught up in the drug world.. (