The annual film symposium features filmaker Ross McElwee

By Hannah Newman

The university community can come see Rider’s annual film symposium, entitled, “Real Life, Reel Representation: The Art and Politics of Nonfiction Film,” Feb. 28 and 29 in the Rue Auditorium.

Since 2007, the film department has held a two-day symposium that analyzes different areas of film. The program allows film students to explore their passions and create a more distinct film presence on campus. 

Cynthia Lucia, a professor of media arts, said, “The purpose of the symposium is to create a vibrant film culture on campus and provide a more public forum for our students in presenting their own work.”

In addition to enhancing the opportunities for film students to be exposed to the industry, the symposium brings together cutting-edge professionals. 

During the afternoon and evening hours of Feb. 28, student panels will be held, giving those the chance to display their passions for certain films. 

The night will feature film scholar Barry Keith Grant via Zoom. Grant is an expert in documentary film studies, specifically his work about  Frederick Wiseman, who is now 94 years old and known for his observational cinema. 

Observational cinema is the art of placing viewers within a scene without any interventions or written titles. Wiseman takes his camera into institutions and observes how power is negotiated. A well-known film of his is “High School,” a documentary from 1968 that shows the life of Northeast High School in Philadelphia from an eye in the sky perspective showing how teachers interact with students. 

Lucia has played the film in her classes due to its organic creativity and the pivotal time period it was made. 

“At that point America was involved in the Vietnam War and many young men at the graduating point of high school were drafted to serve,” said Lucia. 

Feb. 29 at 11:30 a.m., a faculty forum will be held with presentations from professors Barry Janes, Jay Stern, Robin Rusciano and Cynthia Lucia. 

Feb. 29 will have a special in-person guest: award-winning filmmaker Ross McElwee, who has won many awards in the industry, such as the 2005 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary, the 2006 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing, a nomination  for the Cannes Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCAE) Award. 

Junior film and television major Nat Kapustin said, “I personally have questions for McElwee about what we’ve watched in class.”

McElwee will be showcasing his latest projects to students to heighten their ambition to work in the film industry. 

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