Nine films. Six countries. Three nights of a local approach to international film and the cultures that the films represent - all made possible by students. Baylor Film and Digital Media and the Film and Global Culture Engaged Learning Group are holding the first Baylor International Film Festival, which begins 7 p.m. tonight in Bennett Auditorium. The festival continues into the weekend and ends 7 p.m. Sunday and is free of charge. The film screenings will be in Bennett Auditorium, Fountain Mall and Castellaw Communications Center. The two Fountain Mall outdoor movie screenings, or "Silver Screenings," will be shown on a 20-foot inflatable screen and popcorn will be provided to all who attend.
The idea of holding a film festival stemmed from the ELG last semester after the ELG attended a school-funded trip to the American Film Institute Dallas International Film Festival.
"And during the summer, people (from the ELG) threw together some stuff and said, 'Okay, we're going to do this.' And it all started from there," said Houston sophomore Jacob Voncannon, who is the in charge of organizing the festival.
Engaged Learning Groups are groups of selected freshmen that attend 1-hour discussion seminars for 3 semesters, focusing on a certain topic. The Film and Global Culture ELG is focused on cinema and uses a variety of approaches to understanding film, according to the ELG Web site.
Communication studies professor Christopher Hansen is the director of the Film and Global Culture ELG and film scholar. Hansen said that he, Dr. Jim Kendrick and Dr. Xin Wang created the ELG as a way to bring freshmen into groups that focus on film from different angles. The International Film Festival is another way that the ELG can learn from and understand film - by organizing and distributing films.
"It's something the entire campus can partake in and enjoy," said New Orleans sophomore Braden Yandel. Yandel is in charge of planning for the festival.
Even if students don't have knowledge about international film, they can enjoy the festival, Voncannon said.
"The different movies bring different world perspectives but still there a lot of connections -- in film -- to America," he said.
The film screenings will be in Bennett Auditorium, Fountain Mall and Castellaw Communications Center.
The two Fountain Mall screenings, or "Silver Screenings," will be shown on a 20-foot inflatable screen and popcorn will be provided to all who attend.
There will also be speakers prior to the screening of a number of the films, whose role is to explain the culture, language and history of the country the movie is from, to the audience.
"We're essentially going to foreign language (departments) or foreign experts," said Hansen. "Hopefully we will have a good number of people introduce (the movies) that can give a good contextual basis for a film," Hansen said.
The speakers are from various language and cultural backgrounds.
"One of the biggest things that we've learned through this class is that it does help to have an understanding of the cultures where these films have come from," said Yandel. "A lot of the messages in these films are universal and it's going to be stuff that everybody seeing the films are going to love."
The films were selected by the Film and Global Culture ELG. Each group submitted film suggestions and after discussions, the committee for the festival chose which films would be screened in the festival.
"It's to provide a cultural benefit for the campus from the ELG program," Hansen explained.
The goal of the festival is to expose students to international film and for students to be both entertained and informed, Hansen said.
"Ultimately, we all like a good film," he said.