by Gary Phillips
In 2004 Dan Clark, Associate professor of English, and Andrew Wiseman, Professor of Spanish, came up with the idea of the Foreign Film Series, a selection of films that are produced in other countries that show the culture in which they are filmed. After gaining approval in spring of 2004, they were able to fund the first series through a gift from the Student Life department and they were able to screen the first film in spring of 2005. Since the first semester, the FFS has shown approximately 80 films.
According to FFS mission statement, the series is not intended to entertain; its primary purpose is educational, which supports the Cedarville University Mission Statement. Clark carefully selects each film based on their serious content, cultural relevance and potential to expand students’ cultural awareness.
“We are really looking for films that show something about the culture in which they are in, just trying to give students an opportunity to broaden their view of the world. I like exposing things that are there that are cultural,” Clark said.
According to Clark, the film series is a good way to help students find commonality and find empathy for other cultures.
Clark says one of the things the University is trying to do is to give the students a better understanding of the world around them and to give them empathy for it. He said, “we want the Gospel to be propagated and expanded but sometimes we really struggle with interacting with other cultures or developing an interest in other cultures.”
Louise Grandouiller, professor of French and composition, has attended about two thirds of the films. She says the films are a great way for someone to get to know a culture they are not familiar with.
“If we don’t study other cultures a little bit, we interpret them through the mesh of our concepts, our gestures, our ways of thinking and then we misinterpret,” she said.
Some of the foreign films are hard hitting, such as the past film “Paradise Now” which deals with the motivation behind suicide bombers. It was filmed in Israel and the Palestinian territories and attempts to show what it takes for someone to get to the point to be able to strap bombs to themselves and become a suicide bomber. Because the films tend bring up tough questions, Clark said, they sometimes invite guest speakers to come and talk about issues that are involved with the films.
Coming up this semester the FFS will host two British films and one Japanese anime film.
On Feb. 8, they will be showing “Goodbye Christopher Robin”, which gives the background of the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories. On March 1, the award winning Japanese anime film “Your Name” which is a mix of science fiction and fantasy. Finally, on March 15, the FFS will be showing the blockbuster hit “Dunkirk”, a finely crafted war film with a lot of action but not a lot of dialogue. Directed by Christopher Nolan (also known for directing the Batman trilogy), the film follows the narrative of three different stories moving forward chronologically that will ultimately converge in the film.
“It can be a very eye opening experience”, Clark said.
Gary Phillips is a journalism major and a non traditional student. He enjoys warm weather, pizza and Pepsi.