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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 19, 2001

Academy postpones feminist film series

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Honolulu Academy of Arts Theatre has postponed indefinitely the presentation of a controversial feminist film series by Hau'ula writer and filmmaker Alice Anne Parker.

The decision to postpone the screening of Parker's films has nothing to do with their graphic nature or potentially shocking content, said academy director George Ellis.

Instead, they are looking into using Parker's films as part of a broader, more comprehensive program discussing women's issues.

One of Parker's widely discussed films, the 17-minute short "Near the Big Chakra," presents, in extreme close-up, the vulvae of 37 females ranging in age from three months to 56 years. Parker said she's disappointed with the academy's decision.

"It just amazes me that these movies can stir up such flack after 30 years," Parker said. "This has never happened before."

Her short films have been honored at the Cannes Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and at the Venice Bienalle and are used in film classes across the nation.

The academy had received one letter from a longtime member threatening to resign her membership because of the plan to screen Parker's films. Ellis said that protest played no part in the decision to postpone the showing.

The academy plans to organize a community advisory committee to discuss ways of presenting the various issues facing women worldwide, from genital mutilation to gender roles.

Although Parker supports the academy's plans for presenting a larger program involving her films, she said she believes not showing them as scheduled will create more controversy.

"Art is hard," she said. "Good art often makes people get excited and look inside. And here it is: People are getting excited."