By Hector Arzate
While you might expect most students at Humboldt State University to be crunching for homework or studying on a weeknight, the Kate Buchanan Room saw rows of chairs filled as if it were an early morning intro to biology course. The difference, however, is that nobody was struggling to stay awake and keep their eyes on the screen at the end of the room.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the department of Student Engagement And Leadership, in collaboration with the Queer Student Union, the Women’s Resource Center and the African American Center for Academic Excellence hosted a free screening and student panel discussion of the award winning film Moonlight.
Ketly Sylla, 19, sociology major and student staff at the African American Center for Academic Excellence felt the excitement and engagement from both audience and community members.
“Overall, it was a good turnout,” Sylla said. “We even had to bring in more chairs. Some people came for a class, some came to see it for the first time and some were even seeing it for the fifth time.”
The film, which has received more than eight Academy Award nominations and took home best motion picture at the Golden Globes, has received universal acclaim for everything from its cinematography to its diverse cast.
For students like Harrel Deshazier, 21, psychology major and student panelist, the film means more than the medium by which its measured.
“It is such a valuable film,” Deshazier said. “It tells a story that humanizes black people, something we don’t get to see often. And more so, queer black men who are always portrayed as hypersexual and aggressive. We don’t get to see the other side in movies.”
The panel consisted of three self-identifying queer people of color, Taiden Partlow, Malcolm Chanaiwa and Deshazier. However, it was open to comments and reactions from the audience as well.
Having seen the film more than once, Chanaiwa expressed the importance of both the film and the space that was held to discuss it.
“It is so powerful,” Chanaiwa said. “I cry whenever I think about it, and I think about it a lot. So it’s awesome that we can hold this space to view the movie and discuss what it means to us.”
One audience member who identified as a black Latina felt that she could relate to the diverse and inclusive themes throughout the film’s story.
“You don’t really see multiculturalism in identity portrayed in film,” she said. “Juan [Mahershala Ali’s character] is a black Cuban. So the scene where he said black people are everywhere was powerful to me. As a black Latina, that really impacted me, and it means a great deal to me.”