The Mask You Live In

On the evening of the 26th of June 80 people attended a screening of the award-winning documentary “The Mask You Live In”  (2015). Through a series of insightful interviews with boys and young men, and well chosen film clips, the documentary knits together a narrative that explores what it is like to be a man in today’s world, and how the narrow definition of masculinity is putting men under enormous pressure.

The director Jennifer Siebel Newsom attended the screening on invitation from the Public Health Film Society. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Jennifer Siebel Newsom; and feminist campaigner  Nikki van der Gaag; founder and CEO of The Good Lad Initiative David Llewellyn; and media and communications expert Mahala Nelson. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Olena Seminog, a third year doctorate student at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford, and Vice-President of the Public Health Film Society. Among the issues discussed were the saturation of media with aggressive male stereotypes and the lack of positive male role models for boys and young men. David Llewellyn pointed to the work that the Good Lad Initiative has done throughout Oxford promoting “positive masculinity”.  In doing so, they enable men to deal with complex gender situations and become agents of positive change within their social circles and broader communities. Jennifer Siebel Newsom also pointed to the work of The Representation Project which has used film and media to promote gender equality. ‘The Mask You Live In’ is the second film created by the project, the first being the 2011 award winning documentary ‘MissRepresentation’.

The event was supported by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), the Wellcome Trust, Royal Society of Arts, Faculty of Public Health, American Public Health Association and Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford.

Closing the evening Dr Seminog said “We want to see more collaborations like this film initiative in Oxford. Our charity, the Public Health Film Society, aims to bring together people with different interests, including film makers, health professionals, scientists, book authors, campaigners to engage in a conversation on health and wellbeing, with the major aim of making the society healthier. It follows from the main objective of the charity to educate, and involve people in conversation about health and social determinants of health using films and digital media as a medium”.

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