Three Classic Films to Watch

Movies, just like other pieces of art, are important works that can say a lot about society and send important messages to the masses. Movies can also be political. There have been a plethora of important films since the medium’s conception, and many of them have vital political and social themes. So, here are some classic movies that I highly recommend.

1. “All the President’s Men”

This movie is a very excellent take on the important role that journalists play within the United States. It focuses on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and the investigative journalism that they undertook in exposing the details of the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s resignation as president. This movie is significant, because it shows that within a democracy, journalism plays a crucial role in informing the masses and exposing them to information that they have a right to know.

2. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

This classic film starring Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier carries an extremely powerful message, as it deals with interracial marriage and racial tensions during the 1960s in the United States. It hones in on a couple that recently got engaged, and the events that ensue after the white daughter brings home her black fiancé to meet her parents. In the film, the white parents grapple with the idea that their daughter has chosen to marry a black man, which was something extremely controversial at the time and even illegal in some states.

3. “To Kill a Mockingbird”

This movie with Gregory Peck (who actually attended San Diego State back when it was a college for school teachers) is based off of the classic novel by Harper Lee. This film is an extremely important work, and even won Peck an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Atticus Finch. It shows the unjust race relations that were rampant during the 1930s in the U.S. The movie focuses in on a black man who is unjustly accused of raping a white woman, and really showcases the racism that African-Americans had to endure during that time period (and still do now). This heartbreaking film is a classic that really sends a political message about the unjust nature of society.

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SXSW: A Brief History

South by Southwest, a conference for new ideas wrapped inside an art festival enclosed in a film festival and encased in a music festival. The best way to describe SXSW is that it is a lot of everything. The festival is on right now until March 20th, and the biggest names in art, film, technology, music, almost everything, are there right now. But how did this giant festival of life begin? I was curious if it had just started as a lowly music fest that grew and grew into what it is today. Turns out that the story doesn’t quite go that way.

It began in 1986 when Ronald Swenson, Louis Black (not the comedian), Nick Barbaro, and Louis Meyers met together in the offices of The Austin Chronicle to create a festival in order to attract attention to all the musical talents that Austin, Texas held. Their key idea was to create a way for the talent in Austin to get noticed. But they also wanted to make a festival for arts and ideas. In order to not make the event exclusive to Austin, to include the world, they named is South by Southwest. Thus, in March of 1987, the first SXSW was held. The organizers figured they would get about 150 people to attend. To their surprise and delight, 700 people came on just the first day.

It wasn’t until their 8th event that they added in SXSW Film and Interactive. In the film festival’s first year they managed to have two world premiers, 36 speakers, and 8 panels. That same year, the brothers that made up the band Hanson were brought to SXSW by their father to audition for music executives. They just happened to meet their future manager at the festival.

This brief history of South by Southwest barely covers all that the huge festival has done and has to offer. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on Austin when March comes around, because you never know if the next big band, film, or technological breakthrough is going to come through.