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ISSUE 117 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/10/2003

Film Club: the remake

By Ian Anderson
Staff Writer

Friday, October 10, 2003

Going to the movies is a strange phenomenon. Why would people want to sit in uncomfortable chairs and watch movies with strangers when they could rent movies and watch them in the comfort of their own homes? It’s the mass experience that is the appeal: we want to learn something from a movie, but we want to learn with others. The St. Olaf Film Club is based on this premise.

Every Friday at 7:00 p.m., the Film Club plays critically acclaimed movies for just that reason: to learn. “We want more than a group of students wanting to watch movies; [we want students] to be involved in the process of understanding how cinema has evolved and how it’s appreciated, both as a catalyst and a product of large changes in cultural moors, world interests, politics, and how the eco-system of business and cinema interact,” said Jason Zencka ’06, co-president of this year’s film club.

Aspiring film critics Zencka and Aubrey Barnard ’04 have taken over Film Club as co-presidents this year in hopes of revamping its image and providing motivation for increased student attendance and interest. They intend to do this by implementing an over-arching theme in cinema each month, so as to simultaneously show great movies and stimulate discussion. This month’s theme is 1970s American cinema, and next month’s will be film noire – both strong themes that are the sources of many modern independent films.

“I’ve always been interested in how film works in the larger scheme,” Zencka said. “I wanted an avenue to expand that world with other students that took initiative – and that had yet to exist.”

Already, they have noticed weekly regulars and an improvement in attendance. “Last year there was pretty low attendance, and there wasn’t much organization. We hope to change that,” Zencka said. If that interest remains, they are thinking of opening other leadership positions so it’s “more than just two kids showing their favorite films,” Zencka said. Barnard added, “We want to make it a much less exclusive situation than last year. Not only discussing, but getting people who come to the films interested in choosing other films.”

Film Club also has a new student advisor: Associate Dean for Humanities Rich Fairbanks. “He’s very enthusiastic and well-versed in cinema lore,” Zencka said. Not only does he help them choose the films, but he also helps them pick topics, give advice and works as a liaison between the administration and the club. With this new source of support and advice, Zencka believes that “Film Club is on the cusp of a new golden age.”

Another direction that the club has taken this year is after-film discussions. After every showing, members of Film Club take time to talk about what they have just viewed and what that means to both the individual and the greater scope of film’s influence. “So far, the weekly discussions have been lively and energetic,” Zencka said. “We hope to show good cinema and create good discussion at the same time.”

Zencka and Barnard also hope to include student-made films in the future. “We’ll have a ten minute ‘preview,’ which will be a student’s short,” Zencka said. “It may be a preview of what may come in American cinema.”

Yet another goal of the club is to take field trips to film festivals and to Minneapolis theaters such as the Lagoon. “It’s a part of our vision of expanding the reaches of film club,” Barnard said.

“I’ve been a participant for three years, but I’ve had no decision making powers or input,” Barnard continued. “Now we can provide that opportunity.”

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