ISLA VISTA — The Carsey-Wolf Center at UCSB will present its “Subversives” discussion series this week, starting with “Sorry to Bother You” (2018).
Participants are invited to view the film on their own and then join a moderated conversation about the film. Tuesday’s discussion is scheduled from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Director Boots Riley will talk about the film with Miguel Penabella, a Ph.D. candidate in UCSB’s Department of Film and Media Studies, according to a news release.
To register to attend, visit https://ucsb.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_v4HjsRoHTBKLrpYXc9sqyw.
Mr. Penabella, who conceived the “Subversives” series during a yearlong practicum with CWC director Patrice Petro and associate director Emily Zinn, said he was interested in films that would highlight politically and ideologically subversive films such as Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” of 1940, which lampooned Adolf Hitler.
“The decision to screen that film was to reflect on the effectiveness and legacy of using comedy to critique fascism, which is a debate that continues today across many works throughout different political contexts,” he said in a news release. “I also wanted to imagine a broader, expansive idea of ‘Subversives’ as well, including films that may be aesthetically or commercially subversive or works that may have generated a cult following, which is why we chose selections from ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse,’ itself groundbreaking for how it blends live action, puppetry, stop-motion animation and claymation.”
In “Sorry to Bother You,” Mr. Penabella said he was drawn to Mr. Riley’s outsider status as a filmmaker. The film, Mr. Riley’s first — his entertainment experience is in hip-hop — is what he called a “a fun and funky satirical comedy” about a black telemarketer who ascends the corporate ladder by performing “white voice.”
“Rarely do we see commercially released films with big name actors sympathize with labor struggles and display any kind of class consciousness (though some might remember Sally Field’s titular character fighting for union rights in ‘Norma Rae’),” he said, “and I found ‘Sorry to Bother You’ ideologically subversive for bringing those themes to wider cinemagoing audiences.”
Following the main discussion between moderator and guest, there will be time for a few questions from the audience. Those questions will be selected by the CWC staff from the Q&A function on Zoom. Audience members can also use the chat function in Zoom to interact with one another during the event.
— Mitchell White