January 21, 2011

'Film Fridays at the Varsity' opens Jan. 28

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Based upon the initial success last fall, organizers with the “Film Fridays at the Varsity” film series eagerly anticipate this semester’s offerings.

The series will again focus on two themes -- recent feature films by women directors and avant-garde works.

The first screening, an avant-garde exploration of reflexivity, is at 4:30 p.m., Jan. 28, at the Varsity Center for the Arts, 418 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale. Admission is free and open to the public.

Susan Felleman, an associate professor of Cinema Studies and Women’s Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was pleased with the series’ popularity during the five screenings last fall.

Attendance grew with each screening, with a full house and need for additional chairs at the last one of the semester, Felleman said. One of the initial goals was to create an intimate setting for people to view films that had limited openings in larger cities or works rarely screened at all.

“We were very pleased,” she said. “It was really clear there was a mix of students, faculty, staff and the community at all of the screenings.

“You felt there was a cohort of people interested in the arts and independent cinema,” said Felleman, noting the atmosphere provided a different feeling than attending a film in a theater chain or even an event on campus.

“It drew people who are really interested in film from the community and the University, it’s in town, and it’s a lovely old theater,” she said.

The screenings all begin at 4:30 p.m. with an introduction by curators, followed by casual open discussion after the films.

The three feature films that Felleman will present this fall are “35 Shots of Rum,” a 2008 film directed by Claire Denis; “The Betrayal -- Nerakhoon,” a 2008 film directed by Ellen Kuras that was a 2009 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature; and the critically acclaimed 2010 film, “Tiny Furniture,” directed, written by and starring Lena Dunham.

Derek Smith, a second-year graduate student in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts’ Masters of Fine Arts program, is again curating the series of avant-garde and experimental films with Deron Williams, another second-year MFA student. Those films will focus on reflexivity, self and consciousness.

Those screenings will last between 70 and 90 minutes, Smith said. Films from Owen Land, Michael Snow, Bruce Conner, Phil Solomon, Barbara Hammer, Paul Sharits, Bill Viola, and J. Leighton Pierce are among the featured works.

The films will offer audiences more introspection, Smith said. The variety is also a “really good introduction” to those interested in avant-garde cinema, he said.

“We had a great turnout,” Smith said. “A lot of people came to every screening … and we got more and more people every time.”

Additional information on the films and the schedule will be on the Cinema and Photography department website, http://cp.siu.edu/.

“It used to be the case that most of these films simply could not be seen except in very specialized venues or in University classes,” Felleman said. “Some of them are becoming increasingly available on the Web, happily, but that is a totally different experience than seeing them projected on a screen -- which is the way many of the films we are showing were meant to be seen.”

The spring 2011 “Film Fridays at the Varsity” schedule is:

  • Friday, Jan. 28 -- “Reflexivity,” featuring films of Owen Land, Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, Naomi Uman, and Bruce Conner.
  • Friday, Feb. 4 -- “35 Shots of Rum,” directed by Claire Denis, 2008, 100 minutes.
  • Friday, March 4 -- “Self,” featuring films of Stan Brakhage, Barbara Hammer, Kenneth Anger, Phil Solomon, and Chris Burden.
  • Friday, March 25 -- “The Betrayal -- Nerakhoon,” directed by Ellen Kuras, 2008, 96 minutes.
  • Friday, April 1 -- “Consciousness,” featuring films of Paul Sharits, Nancy Holt, Matt McCormick, J. Leighton Pierce, and Bill Viola.
  • Friday, April 22 -- “Tiny Furniture,” directed by Lena Dunham, 2010, 98 minutes.

Contact Felleman at 618/453-1485 or by email at felleman@siu.edufor more information.