From 12 entries, OFCC chose five finalists. All 12 essays were timely and insightful, but these five stood out.

Celine Dauphole Fouillet, “Motherhood and expression of womanhood in ‘Babadook’ and ‘Carrie’” (Dr. Ralph Beliveau, associate professor of journalism and mass communication)
Emily L. Clark, “Same Premise, Different Product: How Differences Between the United States and Japan Affect the Narratives of FernGully and Pom Poko” (Dr. Yip Man Fung, associate professor of film and media studies)
Lupita Gonzalez, “Okja: The Duality of Innocence” (Dr. Victoria Sturtevant, CAS associate dean of academic programs and professor of film and media studies)
Tatiana Rosillo, “A Stiletto in the Hand Is Worth a Gun in the Purse” (Joshua Nelson, director of film and media studies)
Isaac Young, “Representation of Han in Kwon-taek’s Sopyonje and Kim Ki-duk’s The Isle” (Dr. Yip Man Fung, associate professor of film and media studies)

The essay of recipient of The Chastain Award 2018, Lupita Gonzalez, is moving and insightful. Titled “Okja: The Duality of Innocence,” this coherent and well-argued essay explores the 2017 critically acclaimed film, “Okja,” by Korean director Bong Joon Ho. Starring Tilda Swinton  among many other Hollywood stars, the film also features South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun. 

Netflix describes the film this way:

"For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (Ahn Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja-a massive animal and an even bigger friend-at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija's dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja...while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home. Deftly blending genres, humor, poignancy and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises-the bond between man and animal-and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all."

Dr. Victoria Sturtevant, CAS associate dean for academic programs and professor of film and media studies, nominated Gonzalez’ essay, which focuses on the major theme of Mija’s loss of innocence through her experience. She sums up her nuanced look at that human reality in this way:

"Ultimately, Mija suffered a great and irreplaceable loss. She lost the idealistic lens through which she saw the world. She has seen the despicable truth of not only the meat industry, but of the world at large. That truth is pain and suffering, loss and death. It is the prioritization of profit over living beings. It is greed and corruption and façade. It is not being able to save everyone, even if everyone deserves saving. It is not being able to protect your loved ones from harm. It is being powerless and outnumbered. But while Mija lost her innocence, she didn’t lose her kindness or tender heart, evident in the film’s final scene where Mija and her grandfather sit down for a meal with Okja at their side. Adulthood isn’t all disillusionment and cynicism, but instead means being aware of these realities and doing your part to create incremental change, even if you alone cannot change the course of the entire world. Mija was unable to save all of the pigs because that was never in her reach to begin with. She was, however, able to save Okja and return her safely home. And that, like any small victory for humanity, is worth celebrating.”


Gonzalez is a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Film and Media Studies and minoring in Latin American Studies. She is from Norman, Oklahoma and has lived in the state all her life. She graduated from Norman North High School. Here’s what she says of herself:

"I'm a first-generation Mexican-American and I come from a family of immigrants. I take a lot of pride in my Mexican roots and heritage, and I'm proud to be bilingual in Spanish and English. I chose to pursue film because of its capacity to tell the stories of, and give a voice to, disenfranchised and underrepresented people. I'm especially interested in international cinema and filmmakers of color whose films are a reflection of their cultural identity, such as Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho and his beautiful film Okja. I've spent my time as an undergraduate at OU focusing mainly on film analysis and theory, although I have plans to study film production after graduating. I enjoy writing about film as a way to learn about nations, their histories, and their people, especially Mexican and other Latin American national cinema, which I've gotten the chance to do as I study abroad in Puebla this semester.”

OFCC members congratulate Gonzalez and her nominating professor


The sharp analysis displayed in the essay of May 2018 OU graduate Tatiana Rosillo, English major from Midwest City, is summed up in its witty title, “A Stiletto in the Hand Is Worth a Gun in the Purse.” Her look at 2017’s “Atomic Blonde,” directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron, is a close reading of a film that takes on the sexism inherent in the gendered movie genre the spy thriller. She says in her introduction that this film is a "complex step in the move towards femalecentric spy films.” She continues to assert that "What warrants critical attention in Atomic Blonde are the modes of weaponized femininity constructed by Lorraine (the Theron lead character) in her wardrobe and mannerisms; Lorraine cultivates an impenetrable, unflappable traditionally feminine aesthetic and uses this aesthetic as armor, weapon, and trap. Using these modes of weaponized femininity, the film examines the constructed nature of femininity and weaponized femininity’s interventions in those expectations.”

Rosillo concludes that "Atomic Blonde is not without flaws and problematic appeals to the sexually objectifying male gaze, but with Lorraine as its protagonist and femininity weaponized in her hands, it takes strides towards equality in the portrayal of women in action films."

OFCC members congratulate Rosillo and her nominating professor, Joshua Nelson, director of film and media studies. Rosillo was also nominated for The Chastain Award 2017 by another professor, Dr. Ralph Beliveau, associate professor of journalism and mass communication. Her essay for his class was titled “Conjuring the Mother of the Year.” It focuses on James Wan’s “The Conjuring,” a 2013 film.