Now that we bright Bowdoin students are back from fall break, we're ready to diligently jump right back into our schoolwork...or not. Either way, there are lots of worthwhile cinematic events happening right here in Brunswick.
Burlington Film Festival
Over the long weekend, I found myself in northern Vermont, staying at a friend's house on the outskirts of Burlington. Expecting a quiet, uneventful weekend, I got neither, thanks to the Vermont International Film Festival. Although I went to a couple of small festivals in Barcelona while abroad, this was my first big-league festival.
The bulk of the films presented were documentaries of social significance on a wide variety of topics. I viewed "Toxic Bust," about probable connections between the rising uses of chemicals and rates of breast cancer.
"Frankensteer" sickeningly details the various ways meat output is being maximized at the expense of consumer health, the cattle themselves, and the environment.
The best film, "Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars," chronicles a band created in Guinean refugee camps during the civil war in Sierra Leone amidst turmoil and despair.
All of these films did what documentaries should do: give in-depth looks at real people in real situations that otherwise might not get the attention they deserve. Other sources like print and television media don't prioritize these stories and topics, so it is up to films to educate people on these topics.
Experiencing it at a film festival was surely an added bonus. It's exciting?exiting the theater to see the throngs waiting for the next film, discussing what they had seen and what they would recommend. That's what film and art are supposed to do: inspire you to think about the world in a slightly different way, alter some preconceived notions, and challenge previously held ones.
"On the Border" Series
If you haven't gotten a chance to check out the fantastic Chinese Documentary Film Series "On the Border" yet, make sure you do soon. The first film in the series, which was about bottle collectors on a road in Shanghai, was frank yet humanistic. These films showcase aspects of Chinese culture that its politicians and media rarely, if ever, allow to be seen. You will not be able to see these films anywhere else; this is a one-time opportunity, so take advantage of this chance to see senior Jordan Schiele's work.
The last three films of the "On the Border" series will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall.
"The War Tapes"
Opening for a one week engagement at Eveningstar Cinema is the Iraq documentary "The War Tapes," which is surely worth your 90 minutes. The film uses footage supplied by 10 National Guardsmen to construct an image of what's actually happening on the ground in Iraq. Through this lens, the viewer is able to see a level of candor and honesty no American media cameras will ever be able to capture.
On October 20 at 6:30 p.m., Brandon Wilkins, a Brunswick resident and one of the cameramen, will be on hand to lead a Q & A about his experiences both making the film and fighting in Iraq. Tickets are now on sale at Eveningstar for this special event.
"The War Tapes" will screen daily at 1:30, 4, 6:30, and 8:30 p.m. For more information, check out www.eveningstarcinema.com.
Eveningstar has a new counterpart in town now, thanks to the opening of the Frontier Café, Cinema and Gallery. I haven't checked it out yet, but it seems ideally suited for undergrads with a coffee addiction, who are looking for something to do other than schoolwork.
This weekend, the Frontier will show "Who is Bozo Texino?" will be shown. The film chronicles a lengthy search for the source of the moniker "Bozo Texino," who was seen on railcars for nearly a century.
Director Bill Daniel will be on hand to lead a Q & A discussion after the film. "Who is Bozo Texino?" will be showing at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on October 21.
The Frontier Cafe is located in Fort Andross, in the part of the building on Maine Street right before you cross the Androscoggin. Check out www.explorefrontier.com for more information.
Bowdoin Annual Film Festival
Finally, amidst all the film news, I will make the first announcement for Bowdoin's 3rd Annual Film Festival. It won't happen until the spring, but it's not too early to think about making a contribution.
This is the true grassroots level of cinema and the best way we can continue to pressure the administration to reintroduce film production classes to this campus. I am head of the festival this year, so send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a tradition that we will work to continually strengthen at Bowdoin; it can happen only with your support.