Students and Brunswick residents alike flooded Kresge Auditorium last Saturday evening for a screening of “The Fits,” a film about mass hysteria among an inner city dance team in Cincinnati. The drama, which is director and producer Anna Rose Holmer’s first feature film, was produced on a micro-budget at Venice’s Biennale College Cinema department, and premiered at both the 2015 Venice International Film Festival and the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Saturday’s screening was the Cinema Studies Program’s first screening of the year, and was scheduled by Professor Allison Cooper in hopes to draw first-years, upperclassmen and town residents alike on the first weekend of the semester.

The story follows an 11-year-old, Toni, as she joins an all-girls drill team at her local community center and is plagued by a series of ‘fits.’ According to Cooper, it’s a story about belonging, about faking it and about adolescence—themes that, although singular in their manifestation of mass psychogenic illness and inner-city drill team dynamics, were well-received by the crowd on Saturday.

“The whole mystery of these fits that these girls succumb to becomes a metaphor for Toni trying to figure out what adolescence is and what it means to be a girl, because she’s on the cusp of becoming an adolescent,” said Professor Cooper. “It’s all a mystery—it’s a mystery to all of us. So it’s amazingly rich for this student film.”

“I wonder what percentage of Bowdoin students know about drill and how many students are aware of this strange, inexplicable phenomenon of the mass psychogenic illness,” she added. “It offers two completely different things, in a very realistic way... I wanted them to be surprised and delighted.”

According to Sebastian Hernandez ’20, the event was not only an interesting take on the psychology of adolescence and femininity, but also a thought-provoking chem-free option on a weekend night.

“I think the fits were a metaphor for fitting in, but also about being a woman,” Hernandez said. “Because it only happens to women and you don’t know for sure if she has a real fit or not. It seemed like because it was a movie about a young girl, only girls came… More guys should have come.”