It can be difficult to find good movies these days, especially in languages other than English. Traditional theaters usually won’t play anything that wasn’t produced by a major studio, and even smaller art theaters have a limited capacity for international cinema. Fortunately for Drew students and the surrounding community, the first International Film Festival is opening on campus this Friday, and will run for the next week. 11 films from around the world are scheduled for the main festival, and a fringe festival showcasing six additional Spanish and French films will run until April 15.
According to Assistant Professor of French and Italian Audrey Evrard, who is one of the coordinators for the festival and also helped create the new film and media studies minor last semester, “the overarching theme of the festival is breaking boundaries.” The faculty and students involved with the festival selected films that they believed crossed traditional geographic, cultural or stylistic boundaries. “Some of these just aren’t films you would expect to come from certain countries,” Evrard explained. “We tried to select a wide variety of films to appeal to every student on campus.” The festival line-up includes documentaries, thrillers, dramas, animated films and more.
The festival’s organizers tried to select a film for every language taught at Drew University, including Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, German, Chinese and English. “There are even some films in languages that aren’t taught, like the Indian film,” Evrard said.
Some films were chosen based on faculty and student recommendations or on personal experience. The Spanish and French films, which were funded by Pragda and the Tournées Film Festival respectively, were selected from a pre-determined list.
In addition to the funding from those two programs, money for the festival came the individual departments and the administration.
Student volunteers were also very active in organizing, advertising and staging the festival, creating and hanging posters on campus and in Madison, reaching out through social media and agreeing to usher the screenings.
Evrard emphasized the collaborative nature of the process and expressed her gratitude to all the students and faculty involved. She hopes that the festival will help promote film culture on campus, and expose students to the incredible variety of film styles from around the world.
This festival also connects – albeit informally – to the newly approved film and media studies minor, and Evrard hopes the festival will increase interest in that program.
If the festival is successful, it may become an annual or biannual event and continue to expand over time.
The first screening of the Spanish film Even the Rain will take place on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in LC 28.
A full schedule is available on the festival’s Facebook page, and at groups.drew.edu/internationalfilmfestival. Tickets are $3 for non-Drew viewers, and free for anyone with a Drew ID.