Thursday, March 31, 2011

Upcoming CLUELESS Event at BMFI: A Special “Intern-view”

By Meredith Slifkin, BMFI Intern

Attention lovers of teen comedies, literary adaptations, and anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “as if!”: Clueless is coming to BMFI for a special one night only screening on Thursday, April 7 at 10:00pm! The cult classic, which takes place at a wealthy Beverly Hills high school and is based on the plot of Jane Austen’s Emma, will be shown in conjunction with the senior thesis project of Bryn Mawr College senior (and former BMFI intern) Ivy Howell.

Ivy has been working hard to organize this screening while also writing her thesis, so as a Haverford College alum and current BMFI intern, I know how important it is that we all come out to support Ivy at this event! I caught up with Ivy over email to ask her a few questions about the screening. Read on to hear more about our conversation (intern-to-intern) about the upcoming event and the Clueless legacy.

See Clueless on Thursday, April 7 at 10:00pm, with introduction by Bryn Mawr College Senior and former BMFI intern Ivy Howell
Can you give us a brief description or abstract of your project?

I'm looking at these films as cultural products of the nineties, a period marked by rapid globalization, changing relationships to consumerism, and closer ties between public and private life due to changing media technologies. Keeping in mind this context, I'm examining relationship between gender, class, and race in these films and the relationship these movies have to the larger romantic comedy genre.

I wanted to do something a little more practical too, and, since I've always had an interest in film programming, I wanted to see what it would be like to organize a screening of my own. I'm really excited that BMFI wanted to collaborate with me on this; it's been a stellar learning experience.

What drew you to the topic of 90s teen romantic comedies? What films do you discuss in addition to Clueless?

I've always been conflicted by the fact that I love these films so much, yet, at the same time, I can't help but take issue with certain assumptions and stereotypes that appear over and over again. For instance, most mainstream teen films from the nineties take place in mostly white, upper middle class suburbs. These films put a lot of emphasis on how characters look and dress; as a matter of fact, all the films I examined - Clueless, She's All That, and Mean Girls (which isn't from the 90s, but I think its interesting to compare a post-9/11 film to earlier ones) - have strong makeover subplots where a girl gets made over. Combine that with the idealized fantasy world that these films live in, and I found myself faced with a really rich body of work, with plenty of questions and contradictions to explore in detail.

Alicia Silverstone earns her cult status as the privileged and popular Cher Horowitz
The teen film genre seems to lend itself particularly well to literary adaptations. Could you discuss this phenomenon?

The romantic comedy genre has been around forever, and there are lots of stories to draw from. The romantic comedy tradition, particularly screwball comedies from the 1930s and 1940s, has always been rooted in adaptation, whether plays or novels. Also, Jane Austen novels or Shakespeare plays have a lot of characters and rely upon a social setting with pretty rigid rules about how people interact with one another, two features that lend themselves to depicting the high school experience.

There are quite a few expressions from Clueless that have entered our lexicon. Do you have a favorite line from the film?

"As if!"


Thanks, Ivy! I definitely agree with her answer to the last question, though up there on my list are also “way harsh” and “Ren and Stimpy, they’re way existential.”

All are welcome at this event, where you can come enjoy the film and learn about the teen comedy genre during Ivy’s introduction. It’s a great opportunity to witness the sort of events that are possible when BMFI works together with its community partners to bring truly unique events to the theater.

Hope to see you there! For now, “I’m outtie.”

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