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Rider University to host annual film symposium

originally published: 02/15/2024

Rider University to host annual film symposium

(LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ) -- Landmark documentaries and personal nonfiction films are the subjects of Rider University's Department of Media Art's annual film symposium, which will take place on February 28 and 29, 2024. "Real Life, Reel Representation: The Art and (Personal) Politics of Nonfiction Film" will feature acclaimed speakers, a student film and screenwriting festival, and several student and faculty panel presentations.

“Every year our symposium provides students with a great opportunity to share their work with a larger community and to meet and talk with celebrated filmmakers and film scholars,” says Dr. Cynthia Lucia, professor of media arts.

This year’s keynote speaker is pioneering documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee, who will speak on February 29 at 6:30pm. McElwee is most well-known for his trailblazing 1986 film, Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, which won the 1987 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was chosen by the Library of Congress National Film Registry for preservation as  an “historically significant American motion picture.” As part of his appearance, McElwee, who is also professor of practice at Harvard University, will present portions of Remake, his newest work in progress.

On February 28 at 6:30pm, Dr. Barry Keith Grant, professor emeritus of film and culture at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, will present  “Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman.” Wiseman, a world-renowned documentarian whose observational films have woven a complex tapestry of American institutions over the past six decades, has more than 50 films to his credit. The first film scholar elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Grant has written and edited a wide variety of books about film, including two about Wiseman, as well as Film Genre Reader, a hallmark volume in cinema studies that has been expanded in four editions since its initial publication in 1986.

During the two-day event, students and faculty will present insights into several historic and influential documentaries, including Hoop Dreams, Steve James' 1994 masterpiece that examines two high school students aspiring to become professional basketball players, and Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog's haunting 2005 true tale about a man's misguided relationship with Alaskan bears. Students majoring in film and television at Rider will also present original work during a film and screenwriting festival.



 
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The annual film symposium is designed to help build a film culture at Rider and the surrounding community through cutting-edge film scholarship and exposure to classic and contemporary films. Previous symposia have examined the past and present of film comedy, film noir, cult classics and the film musical, among other topics.

All symposium events are free and open to the Rider community and the general public. Events will be held in Rue Auditorium (Sweigart 115).


Complete Schedule



Wednesday, February 28 - Capturing Life in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

11:30am to 1:00pm - Film Screening: Photographic Memory (Ross McElwee, 2011). Filmmaker Ross McElwee will be their guest tomorrow evening at 6:30pm



1:10pm to 2:40pm - Student Panel: “The Way it Is”: Questioning, Rebelling, Rising Up. Dr. Cynthia Lucia, Moderator, Department of Media Arts (FMS/FTV)

Basic Training (1971): Lindsey Co, Popular Music major, Film & Media Studies minor; and Ashley Morales, Film & Television/English major



 
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Streetwise (1984)/Hoop Dreams (1994): Kaiya Conyers-Benton, Film & Television major

Bright Leaves (2003): Eimy Carhuaz Cervantes, Film & Television major; Arts & Entertainment Industries Management minor

Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4:00pm: Ashley Morales, Film & Television/English major



2:50pm to 4:20pm - Student Panel: The Personal as Political/The Political as Personal. Dr. Cynthia Lucia, Moderator, Department of Media Arts (FMS/FTV)

Six O’Clock News (1996): Reylan Alexis, Business Administration major; Film & Media Studies minor

Photographic Memory (2011): Jasmine Fox, Film & Television major

Hoop Dreams (1994): Matthew Barilla, Film & Television major; and Raymond Cintron, Game & Interactive Media Design major

Streetwise (1984): Kevin Ortiz, Film & Television major



4:30pm to 6:00pm - Student Panel: Illuminating Worlds Known and Unknown. Dr. Cynthia Lucia, Moderator, Department of Media Arts (FMS/FTV)

Grizzly Man (2005): Will Dusinberre, Film & Television major



 
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Into the Inferno (2016) and Grizzly Man (2005): Jason Larson, Film & Television major

High School (1968): Kasier Carter, Film & Television major; and Michelle Velazquez, Psychology major



6:30pm to 8:30pm - Featured Speaker. Dr. Barry Keith Grant, Professor Emeritus of Film

Culture, Brock University, Ontario - “Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman”. Dr. Grant will speak about the work of world-renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman, whose observational films over the past six decades have woven a complex tapestry of American institutions, with such classic films as Titicut Follies (1967), High School (1968), Welfare (1975), Public Housing (1997), National Gallery (2014), and City Hall (2020), to name just a few of his fifty films—and still counting!

Among his dozens of books, Professor Grant most recently authored Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman (Wallflower Press, 2023); The Twilight Zone (Wayne State University Press, 2020); Monster Cinema (Rutgers University Press, 2018); and The Hollywood Film Musical (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). He transcribed and edited 5 Films by Frederick Wiseman (University of California Press, 2006) and is editor of Film Genre Reader, in its six expanded editions since 1986 (University of Texas Press)—a hallmark volume in cinema studies.



8:30pm - Snacks and Chat—All are welcome!



 

Thursday, February 29 - “Reality Fictions”: When Boundaries Blur

11:30am to 1:00pm - Faculty Forays into Documentary. (Pizza: first come, first served; bring your own beverage)

Welcome and Symposium Introduction - Dr. Cynthia Lucia, Department of Media Arts (FMS/FTV)

Searching for Sugar Man (2012, Malik Bendjelloul): Dr. Barry Janes, Department of Media Arts (FTV)

Prom Night in Mississippi (2009, Paul Saltzman): Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano, Department of Government, Politics & Law

Land Without Bread (1933, Luis Buñuel) and Shoah (1985, Claude Lanzmann): Dr. Jay Stern, Department of Media Arts (FTV)



1:10pm to 2:10pm - Student Film and Screenwriting Festival. Dr. Jay Stern, Moderator, Department of Media Arts (FTV)

Student Screenplay: “Pig Ear” by Ashley Morales, Film & Television and English Writing major

Student Films:

Page to Stage by Will Dusinberre and Javier Santos Benito, Film & Television majors

The Great NJ Debate: Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham by Ashley Morales, Carter Zajac, and James Felson, Film & Television majors



4:30pm to 6:00pm - Student Panel: Blurred Boundaries: Fiction and Documentary. Dr. Cynthia Lucia, Moderator, Department of Media Arts (FMS/FTV)

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975): Richard Seib, Film & Television major



 
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Time Indefinite (1993): Nat Kapustin, Film & Television major; Graphic Design minor

Man on Wire (2008): Angel Mosley, Film & Television major

High School (1968): Mike Maista and Sam Oberg-Flood, Film & Television majors



6:30pm to 8:30pm - Keynote Speaker— Ross McElwee. “An Evening with Ross McElwee and His Landmark Documentaries”. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee is also a professor of practice in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. His trail-blazing 1986 film, Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, which won the 1987 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and his later films, including Time Indefinite (1993), Six O’Clock News (1997), Bright Leaves (2003) and Photographic Memory (2011), are humorous yet profound mediations on life, art, relationships, and the larger human condition. Sherman’s March was chosen by the Library of Congress National Film Registry for preservation as an “historically significant American motion picture” and, among many other awards, his Bright Leaves (2003) was nominated as Best Documentary by the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, Independent Spirit Awards, as well as being nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing and at Cannes for the Association Française des Cinémas d'Art et Essai (AFCAE) award. His films have appeared at major international festivals including Berlin, Rotterdam and Sydney, with In Paraguay (2008) and Photographic Memory premiering at the Venice Film Festival. His pioneering approach to the autobiographical/personal essay documentary has been highly influential, shaping the work of such filmmakers as Michael Moore (Roger & Me, 1989), Alan Berliner (Intimate Stranger, 1991), Nathaniel Kahn (My Architect, 2003), and Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, 2004), to name just a few. In the context of his earlier celebrated films, Professor McElwee will present portions of Remake, his newest work in progress.



8:30pm - Closing Reception—All are welcome!


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