Dreams Have No Borders: The 8th Indianer/Inuit North American Film Festival

By Maria Moss and Sabrina Völz

Acosia Red Elk and Drew Hayden Taylor. Photo credit: Sabrina Völz

Ask any Native Studies scholar in Europe, and they will be well aware of the European fascination with Native peoples of North America – a fascination that can be traced back to the novels of 19th century writer Karl May who furthered the noble savage stereotype. The preeminent scholar for Native Studies, Hartmut Lutz, even coined a term for it: Indianthusiasm. When we heard about the 8th Indianer Inuit Festival in Stuttgart from February 6-9, 2020, two questions came to mind: Would this Indianthusiasm come to life or be deconstructed at the festival? And is “Indianer” even a term that should still be used in German-speaking countries?

So we packed our bags and took the 5½-hour train ride from Lüneburg to Stuttgart to investigate. The festival’s program was quite extensive, encompassing documentaries, short films, feature films, children’s films, and music videos produced and directed by Indigenous artists from North America and beyond. Apart from visiting the film screenings, we also encountered fascinating people who gave us an inkling of the impressive variety of contemporary Native artistic expression.

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Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

By Kai-Arne Zimny

[Author’s note: This review is spoiler free.]

A year has passed since the events of The Last Jedi (2017). Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is Supreme Leader of the evil galactic regime called The First Order and still strangely drawn and connected to his enemy, the last Jedi and resistance fighter Rey (Daisy Ridley). But not everything is as it seems, and we soon realize who’s been pulling the strings all along.

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Teaching Human-Animal Studies: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Animals are all around us. But what do we actually mean when we say “animal”? We are, of course, also animals: human animals.  

In recent years, animals have entered university life, and  scholars in fields as diverse as art, philosophy, and religious studies approach animals from different angles and methodologies. Animals are to some extent invisible until they enter the realm of the human. Then they become pets, cattle, or laboratory animals.  

Are you curious? Could this subject enrich your teaching curriculum? Then why don’t you join us at Leuphana University from January 23 to 25. For further information, including registration details, see the program.

Blue Valentine : Endings, Beginnings, and Nothing in Between

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Blue Valentine: A Love Story (2011). That’s what it says on the movie poster. But is this what the movie is really about? A romantic, sustained, and profound lifelong bond between two people? Well, maybe it isn’t.

The present: Dean (Ryan Gosling) is an overall likeable, easygoing slacker. His job, painting houses, allows him the ‘luxury’ of drinking beer in the morning. He’s not a radiant source of bliss but being married to Cindy (Michelle Williams) and getting goofy with their little daughter Frankie (Faith Wladyka) is what he calls “his dream.” However, Cindy, a nurse, has higher aspirations. To her, Dean’s “dream” is nothing but an endlessly depressing nightmare.

The past: Charming high school dropout Dean works as a furniture mover and meets med student Cindy. To him, it’s love at first sight. To her, it’s so-so. He makes jokes, she laughs; he sings and plays the ukulele, she tap dances to the tunes. Her father hates him, but that’s not an issue because love conquers all – right?

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On European Audiences, Workshopping, and His Novel, The Altruists: An Interview with Andrew Ridker

By Sabrina Völz

I met author Andrew Ridker at the Heine-Haus in Lüneburg on October 21, 2019. After the inspiring evening, he kindly agreed to an email interview with the American Studies Blog. His novel, The Altruists, describes a dysfunctional family burdened by their respective pasts and their attempts to repair shattered relationships. Ultimately, as the title suggests, it is also about being good.

SV: Your debut novel, The Altruists, is reaping the highest praise from critics in the U.S. and beyond. How are you coping with all of the attention?

AR: I’m extremely grateful for the kind reviews, which have exceeded my expectations, but in my experience those highs have an expiration date of roughly twenty-four hours. After that, it’s back to work.

SV: In October, you went on a book tour in Germany (Berlin, Göttingen, and Lüneburg), Austria (Salzburg), and Switzerland (Zürich). Was it your first visit to these German-speaking countries? Did anything surprise you?

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The Ultimate Christmas Movie Playlist

By Daria Radler

Ah, Christmas! The holidays are around the corner, and this means a combination of an incredible amount of delicious food (don’t we all love Grandma’s cooking?!) as well as presents and some quality time with our families that we’ve either looked forward to or have secretly dreaded for months. Either way, I’m sure that by now you have probably established a little family tradition of your own when it comes to deciding on your ultimate Christmas movie selection. So let’s look at a few movies that should definitely make your list.

 

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


George Bailey has spent his entire life devoting himself to the people of Bedford Falls. Broken and suicidal on Christmas Eve, he decides that his family and friends would be better off without him. What he doesn’t know is that they have prayed for him to get through these hard times, and that their prayers have been heard: His guardian angel Clarence falls to earth to show him how different the lives of his loved ones would have been if it wasn’t for him. Heartwarmingly beautiful and deeply moving, It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us how much it means to look after one another – a message that makes this movie worth watching over and over again.

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