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ISSUE 119 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/17/2006

Film Club out of funds

By Clare Kennedy
Arts Editor

Friday, March 17, 2006

Faced with unexpected budget shortfalls, Film Club will shut down in mid-April until next fall. The good news is that they have decided to go out with a bang.

“To commemorate a great run [we have] elected to show four random great movies over the next four weeks,” wrote co-president Jason Zencka ’06 in an e-mail to Film Club members.

In response, well over 100 students packed into Viking Theatre Friday to take in the first film in the final series, “Singin’ in the Rain,” as well as a short feature by Zencka called “A Meditation on Monsters.”

Many students came to see the short film, which was met with such uproarious laughter that parts of the sound were drowned out. The film was a well-edited, witty mishmash of random footage and staged bits masterfully pulled together by Zencka’s voice-over.

“I thought it was humorous and well shot,” Carolyn McCardell ’07 said. “There seemed to be a great play between staged and candid.”

In spite of support from the student body, the budget crisis and its aftermath have come as a blow to the co-presidents, Zencka and Tyler Beane ’06, who have lovingly steered the helm for the last few years.

“When I was a freshman, [Film Club] was pretty defunct,” Zencka said. “There were weeks when only one person would show up.”

To revive the club, Beane and Zencka developed an inclusive decision-making body to choose films, advertised, added a discussion component and began to organize the films by theme. The club has also hosted two successful filmmakers: Line Halvorsen, director of the documentary, “A Stones Throw Away,” and Ali Selim, director of “Sweetland.”

In the wake of these changes, attendance has ballooned, and a community of film enthusiasts has sprung up around the club. The club’s sterling track record makes the present situation all the more galling.

“It was a combination of short-sightedness and bad luck,” Zencka said. “The point is that we don’t have enough money for this year. We won’t be able to show films like SAC [Student Activities Committee] does.”

Though the club presidents applied to the Student Organizations Committee (SOC) for a grant during Interim, as they did last year, they were unpleasantly surprised to find that the much-needed funds were not there. Consequently, the club is unable to buy the rights to show enough films for the whole semester.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to help in the way we wanted to,” SOC coordinator Maggie Snetting ’06 said. “This is the first year we’ve felt the impact of the budget decrease of two years ago. At this time of year, we just don’t have enough money to allocate. We weighed all the organizations with pending requests and did what we could.”

Suggested solutions to the shortfall were fundraising, applying for capital improvement money from the Student Government Association, asking for the scant funds available from select academic departments, or admission fees. Snetting’s advice for next year was to apply for a grant in fall, when funds are not as tight.

“It’s a shame because [Film Club] provides a real service,” Zencka said. “There’s a sizeable body of people who show up every week and it would be nice if we could keep that presence at St. Olaf.”

Next week’s film is “Raging Bull,” starring Robert DeNiro.

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