Confronting Whiteness in Hollywood: Abroad

Investigate films about Americans abroad, and what they reveal about how the US sees itself in the world over time.

February 27, 2020


How do Americans see themselves in the world? Since World War II, Hollywood films has had an explicit role in promoting US missions abroad, and also launched searing critiques. This session, we discuss films about Americans abroad, and what they reveal about how the US sees itself in the world over time. In this session, we focus on Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016) and look back at Rambo III (1988), Apocalypse Now (1979), South Pacific (1958), and Sayonara (1957).

SIFF year-round passes and vouchers are not valid for this event.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

SIFF Film Center

7:00 PM

This class is part of the three-class series, Confronting Whiteness in Hollywood series. You can purchase a discounted package of all three classes of $51 ($39 SIFF Members).

Buy Package

February 27, 2020
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
SIFF Film Center
$20 | $15 SIFF Members

CERTIFICATED EDUCATORS: This class is available for 2 Continuing Education Clock Hours through the Puget Sound Educational Service District. There is additional administrative cost through the ESD to redeem the hours. See additional clock hour class offerings and email us if you have any questions.

Student in this class will be expected to have seen Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, 2015) in advance of the class. It is also recommended to have a familiarity or recent viewing of Rambo III (Peter Macdonald, 1988),  Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), Sayonara (Joshua Logan, 1957), and South Pacific (Joshua Logan, 1958). There may be supplemental readings shared in advance of the class, but beyond viewing the film(s) and participating in the class conversation, there are no additional pre-requisites.

Randa Tawil is a PhD Candidate at Yale University in the Department of American Studies, where she teaches courses on race, gender, and migration in the American Film Musical. Her research interests include history of migration, diaspora, and film, and has written several articles on these issues for the Washington Post. Her work is supported by the Yale Macmillan Center, Yale American Studies Department, and the Mellon/ACLS Foundation. Visit

"If whiteness gains currency by being unnoticed, then what does it mean to notice whiteness?" -Sara Ahmed. Whiteness is everywhere in Hollywood films, and yet rarely discussed. Even in films which take up race as a central question or problem, whiteness often serves as a neutral or natural backdrop through which stories of race are told. In this series, we discuss "white savior" movies, and what these movies can teach us about the deliberate and subconscious construction of whiteness in American cinema. 

Confronting Whiteness in Hollywood Series