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Film Festival - What's Eating Gilbert Grap

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
MAC Playhouse - 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Hosted by: Dr. Robert Singer, Professor of English
College Now English Course Coordinator
Dr. Voorhees Dunn, College Now Behavioral & Social Sciences Course Coordinator

About the Movie: What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Director, Lasse Hallstrom - Rating PG 13
So exactly what is eating Gilbert Grape? Before he became a major star, Johnny Depp played Gilbert, a young man who discovers that taking care of his mentally challenged younger brother, (in a remarkable performance by Leonardo DiCaprio), as well as helping his extremely overweight mother, makes it almost impossible for him to have his own life. Love, and automobile trouble will change things for Gilbert, but nothing is ever quite that simple. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is about the life of an atypical American family.

About the Presenter: Dr. Voorhees Dunn
Dr. Voorhees Dunn is an associate professor of political science. He earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Rutgers University. Prior to joining the faculty at Kingsborough, he taught at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, The University of Texas at Dallas and The University of South Alabama at Mobile. As a student of history, Dr. Dunn has always been fascinated by how each of us plays a different role in society and the complexity of our interactions.

ACT - Prep

Extra Credit Assignments
In the film, What's Eating Gilbert Grape the viewer saw a young man suffering from a mild form of a physically debilitating mental illness, as well as the effects that extreme obesity had on his mother. What if scientific and medical research led to the removal, or "correction" of the malfunctioning gene that caused these illnesses, or even heart disease and cancer? Would you support this research financially, politically, and morally? In contrast with this statement, what if science made it possible for parents to "engineer" blue eyes for their unborn children instead of green eyes, or made it possible for male children rather than female children to be born? Science and medical research cannot only clone cells and DNA, soon, it will be able to reproduce life and engineer the genetic makeup of human beings in forms only imaginable to science fiction writers in the past. The atomic research of the previous century had mixed results, from nuclear power to the atomic bomb. Soon, we will be able to make "designer people."

You have been asked to write a letter to the local newspaper in which you will express your view concerning the issue of (pre-birth) genetic engineering. Is the possibility of such genetic engineering to remove potential speech or physical defects, such as those demonstrated in the film What's Eating Gilbert Grape a proper use of scientific and medical research? Do you think this is morally sound? Who should pay for this research: privately funded companies, universities, taxpayers? Who should own this research? Who should control or establish "rules" for such experimentation: business leaders, the government, the church, anybody? In this new millennium, should society develop this scientific ability? Is this our destiny? In your letter, fully discuss your view; you may refer to recent events, such as the cloning of sheep or other forms of scientific experimentation, other important opinions, television or newspaper coverage, or even the film What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Mini-Research Project


(NOTE: This is NOT a research paper - it is a research-oriented experience in which students gather information. They can prepare outlines, note-cards, a bibliography, cite references, or practice any combination of these skills associated with preparing a research paper).

Utilizing the library and its resources, and/or material from the Internet, prepare an investigative project that focuses on any one of these topics associated with the film, What's Eating Gilbert Grape:

a) commonly occurring birth/speech defects
b) the working class in contemporary America
c) the obesity epidemic
d) Lasse Hallstrom, film director


Standard College Essay


Many issues arise from the analysis and discussion of the film, What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Some of the more important issues involve representing working class people and their struggle for survival, keeping close family relations, and acting responsibly toward the mentally and physically handicapped. There are other related personal and social issues arising from the analysis of this film, and these are only some suggested and significant themes to consider.

In a full-length essay (approximately 400-500 words), later to be revised for content and correctness, discuss any of the issues raised in the film What's Eating Gilbert Grape that you consider to be of special interest either for yourself or for society. Feel free to refer to the film or any source of information in your essay. Explain why and how these issues are significant not only in the film but also in relationship to your own life or the lives of other people.

Event Photos What's Eating Gilbert Grape - March 15, 2006

What's Eating Gilbert Grape
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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