Well, it's the time of year when theater screens are filled with enough giant robots, guns, flashy cars and explosions to make Michael Bay drool. Yup, summer blockbuster season is in full swing. But if mindless violence isn't your thing and you find yourself needing a break from all the CGI sensory overload, it can be difficult to track down alternatives to the ubiquitous blockbuster. Luckily we've a compiled a list to add a little variety to your summer viewing.
A NEW APPROACH TO SUMMER CAMP
Aaah, summer camp, where kids from all over convene in the unforgiving forest to sing campfire songs and perform boot camp-like exercises while being eaten alive by plagues of mosquitoes, all in the name of team spirit.
This summer, Wealthy Theatre is reinventing summer camp with its program Girl Power Camp, a program that proves being a girl is kick-ass. The program starts with a screening of the movie Wonder Women! The Untold Stories of American Super Heroines, a documentary that explores the tenuous relationship between femininity and the superhero genre.
The film focuses on the evolution of Wonder Woman, investigating her origins, her role in the superhero genre and the impact and influences she's had on multiple generations of fans. Feminist Gloria Steinem, graphic novel author Trina Robbins and the original TV Wonder Woman Lynda Carter are just a few of the experts featured in the documentary.
Gretchen Vinnedge, one of the instructors of the program, cites the film as the main inspiration for the camp.
“We were talking about the documentary, and we thought it would be great to have girls design super heroines with super powers inspired by traits or characteristics usually associated with women,” says Vinnedge.
After watching Wonder Women! campers animate their own super heroines in short films, which are screened at Wealthy Theater's Mosaic Film Experience in November.
The course also examines the themes of the documentary, such as lack of strong female characters in pop culture, and the misrepresentation of femininity.
“The lack of female representation has always been a problem,” Vinnedge said. “We saw the documentary and felt it was a good one to share with teens to get them thinking about this problem and what they might do to change it.”
The camp is open for high schoolers, and while the program is designed for girls, Vinnedge wants it to be clear that boys are invited to participate as well.
For those of you who are internet savvy and have a few spare dollars burning a hole in your pocket, check out the Kiss Kiss Bank Bank fundraising page for Anne Horel's webseries Greetings from Michigannehorel.
Horel is a French multimedia artist who specializes in creating glitchy collage gifs and performing bizarre, catchy synth pop. Her web series will consist of six episodes and music videos, all following a trippy storyline.
“It is the story of the character Anne Horel, a French cyber superstar who arrives in Michigan to start her American career,” Horel said. “She will endure lots of trials to pursue her dreams of stardom. So it's kind of like a Faustian Beat Generation 2.0 served with an electronic sauce.”
The project's fundraiser page bills the project as a “whirlwind of surreal adventures” complete with spirit guides and everything. Each episode of the series will emulate popular genres, from horror to sci-fi and sitcom.
Horel is tackling this project with fellow artist Anne Lauroz and Michigan native Brian J. Bowe. Horel and Lauroz have collaborated before, and this particular project holds a special place in their hearts.
“Anne and I have been developing a collage aesthetic which is impregnated with American iconography,” Horel said. “Going to Michigan for this project is sort of an iconographic pilgrimage to the heart of American culture, exploring Michigan myths and legends.”
The trio have until the end of July to raise five thousand Euros, or roughly six thousand U.S. dollars to fund the web series, so for the love of film, pop culture and everything magical, dig out your credit cards and visit kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/greetings-from-michigannehorel.
GRPL JUST ISN'T ABOUT BOOKS
Many view summer as the perfect time to sit on the beach and read a good book, but what if you sunburn easily, or are burnt out from a school year of doing nothing but reading? Grand Rapids Public Library has a solution in the form of GR Reads: The Movies. Throughout the summer, GRPL will be teaming up with local theaters and venues to screen an intriguing selection of educational movies that proves informative can also be exciting. Check out the full list of events and locations at grpl.org.