Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke will screen her film “I Am Be” as well as several teen public service announcements in Ahmanson Lecture Hall Thursday at 7 p.m.
Gaulke was inspired to create this film after working with A Window Between Worlds, an organization that supports women who have experienced trauma and domestic violence.
“These women are struggling to own their sexuality, to recover from sexual violence and to feel a sense of their own power and healing,” Gaulke said. “A big message in the film is that women help other women with that. It’s women who empower each other. We can restore to each other our sense of joy and sense of self.”
Gaulke was inspired to tell a story about sexual assault using a Greek myth. In the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, Hades kidnaps Persephone and makes her his wife. Demeter then vows not to help the earth’s harvests until she finds her daughter. When she finds her, spring comes again. This myth is used to explain the origin of the four seasons.
“I love researching the origins of things in culture, and I suddenly became fascinated with the Demeter Persephone myth,” Gaulke said. “As I started reading it, I realized that this story was full of rape.
It was so perverse to me, and we don’t think about that part of the story.”
Jenny Lange ’17, who plays Persephone, said that she became interested in working on the film after reading Gaulke’s script.
“I was interested in the way she had redone an old Greek myth, but the story had a very good message,” Lange said. “It [ended] with an announcement to all women who have been sexual assault victims saying ‘you are not alone’, and I thought that was an important thing to express more and to share more.”
Lange also said that Gaulke and the crew always made sure that the actors were felt safe during filming.
“It was definitely an incredible experience because I worked with really awesome people, and Ms. Gaulke was just very passionate about it and always making sure we were comfortable with everything going on,” Lange said.
Gaulke made the film to educate its viewers about the impact of sexual assault. She also wanted to share a message of female empowerment.
“I wanted to bring out the sexual violence that we kind of just gloss over,” Gaulke said. “There’s a third female character in the story that most people don’t know about, and her name is Iambe. She is the one who empowers Demeter to find her daughter. The title is kind of a play on words, but it is also about a sense of being. I am a body, I am a woman and I am empowered.”
Gaulke hopes that this film will show how sexual assault has always been a part of society and how it is still present in our society today.
“I think it is a moving story. Even though it is done as a Greek myth, it is also contemporary,” She said. “We see a teenage girl who is confronted with a boy at a party who slips her a date rape drug, and we see how violence is embedded in the very fiber of our culture with something as ancient as a myth and in our contemporary life.”