Hosting a Film Series

[Originally posted on Sept. 18, 2013 at baltimorefilmguide.wordpress.com]

As the co-president of a coed media production fraternity, Lambda Kappa Tau, I find myself constantly planning social events in the back of my mind. As we head into our Fall rush period, I wanted to insure that my fraternity brothers and sisters would have a relaxing and fun opportunity to hang out together before having to meet dozens of new recruits. This thought occurred to me at our semester’s first meeting. In that moment, looking around the room at all of my friends and colleagues, I decided that I was going to host a Fall film series.

I’ve gradually come to decide that my screening series would be focused on movies that either are about making movies, or offer an opportunity to talk about the filmmaking process. For example, I intend to screen American Movie, a documentary about a Wisconsin-based filmmaker attempting to make an independent horror film with his family and friends, later in the semester. The film has so much rich content to talk about for an audience of media producers, including the passion with which Mark Borchardt, the filmmaker, approaches the project and how he gathers his resources. In addition, beyond the horror film that Borchardt intends to make, the documentary itself is an incredibly moving story told in a very objective way.

However, for my first screening, which I held in my off-campus apartment among a group of friends, I screened Drew Bolduc’s The Taint. The Taint was crafted by a Virginia Commonwealth University dropout on a budget of $6,000. Bolduc, the film’s writer and director, also composed, edited, produced, and stars in two roles in the film. His intent in making the film was to tackle the issue of misogyny and violence against women as a trope in horror movies. I heard Bolduc give a panel discussion at a Mondo Baltimore screening where he said that the film was to be intentionally misogynistic so as to “end the discussion.” Between the gender issues present in the film and the micro-budget on which it was produced, there was much that a discussion group could debate.

Prior to the event, I wrote up an introduction to preface the film and a list of discussion questions I wanted to pose to my attendees afterwards. I was surprised by how engaged my audience was both in the film and the post-discussion because they elicited tons of interesting ideas I hadn’t previously thought of. For example, the film runs almost on an adrenaline-fueled pace, jumping from scene to scene and cut to cut. However, there are only two moments where the pace slows down and captures what feels to be the only “honest” moments in the film: a gym teacher remembering a beating given to him by his father and a male scientist exchanging adoring glances with his female assistant.

While I knew these moments were shot differently and felt “off” when compared to the rest of the movie, it wasn’t until one of my fraternity brothers mentioned the “genuineness” of these scenes and their implication in shaping the themes of the rest of the movie that I truly realized how important they were. I thought to myself how cool it was that the group collectively came to this realization because of the opportunity for discussion we had posed by the screening. Everyone loves to talk about film because it is such an engaging and meaningful art form. I would recommend to any fan of the cinema, if you really want to get the most out of your movie watching experience, try to watch the film with a large group of people. Afterwards, find some time to hang out and chat about the film. You may be surprised to find where the discussion will take you!

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