Some classes in Berkeley enroll everybody and their mothers. So on the first day of lecture you walk in and see every one of the seats filled in the enormous lecture hall, and in the aisles are the trusty GSIs ensuring that everyone takes turns breathing. So, how do you not fall asleep in such a big class? Or turn to Facebook? Or be enamored by all the attractive people?
Answer: By getting your Shakira on.
In the class, the Southern Border — a course on US-Mexico relations — movies, songs and pictures are worked into the lecture. One day we turned off the lights and listened to a song by American badass Liam Neeson. Another day we watched the Presidential Campaign ads from Mexico — pure comedy, like ours. On another we saw photos of the professors of the course, Harley Shaiken and Beatriz Manz advising Nancy Pelosi and Vicente Fox. Still, these things are super interesting, but how can such a crowded course possibly be cozy?
Answer: Cine Encore.
Cine Encore is a movie screening event just for students in the Southern Border class. A class of 429 students, it has its own website, and sections are not mandatory. Held in 2050 VLSB, essentially an amphitheater, Professor Shaiken once noted that you could have fit Cortez’ army in there, soldiers, horses, cannons and all. The lectures are fascinating and worth sticking around for. Ricardo Lagos, the former President of Chile and an instrumental figure in bringing down the Pinochet dictatorship, visited for an open Q&A.
Let’s take your mind on a journey through the night of Cine Encore: At 6 p.m. you arrive at the CLAS building, which is a brown, almost lilac, stucco house with a ramp on Bowditch. In what was once a living room, there are 30-some chairs, soft yellow walls, and a nice TV that together makes for a cozy theater. On the walls are paintings by Boater, photos of Diego Luna and other famous Latin Americans, and one of Professor Shaiken reaching for the gold.
You sit down. Professor Shaiken makes popcorn after he gives an irresistible two minute introduction. It is strange and magical to hear his words without a microphone. The lights go off. The movie tonight, ‘Machuca,’ begins. Haunting at times, funny at others, ‘Machuca’ is about a boy going through middle school during the Pinochet dictatorship: imagine hell then multiply it by ten. . . For us the home, movie, popcorn (we each had a bowl to ourselves), and casual dialogue really enriched the course. It turns out that Professor Shaiken won an Emmy for producing the documentary, Presumed Guilty, about the Mexican Criminal Justice System (a tragedy, like ours).
It would be great if other gynormous classes at Berkeley took a note from Cine Encore.
Image source: Joshua Escobar, The Daily Californian
Tags:Beatriz Manz, Bowditch, Chile, Cine Encore, CLAS, Diego Luna, Harley Shaiken, Liam Neeson, Mexico, Nancy Pelosi, Shakira, Southern Boarder, Vicente Fox
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