By Christopher Exantus
The film-going experience is considered to be one of the most sociable events that people can take part in. Every week, another big-budget film is released to the masses, making for an ideal night out, but what about lesser-known, small-budgeted movies that can’t command the theaters as well as their expensive brethren?
The Hollywood machine has such an enormous presence that independent or foreign films are left in the dark. The emergence of the digital era has helped somewhat, with online companies such as Netflix providing access to films that are otherwise unattainable. However, average moviegoers who are knowledgeable about underground cinema are still hard to find.
Professor Cynthia Lucia, an associate professor of English, as well as a major influence in the creation of Rider’s Cinema Studies program, formed the Alternative Film Club as a means to provide students interested in film with a place to watch movies that may not be shown in a commercial theater.
“Apart from educating students about film, it seemed that it would be nice to have an informal venue for people to watch movies,” Lucia said.
An admitted “cinephile” — a person with a passion for the cinema — as well as an esteemed editor of the film journal “Cineaste,” Lucia hopes that exposure to films outside of the mainstream will create curiosity among students who wish to further explore their interest in cinema.
“I like the club because it brings movies that aren’t so well known to a mainstream audience,” said Yancarlo Rivera, a freshman at Rider.
Rivera added that the club has “lively discussions” after watching the movies.
The Alternative Film Club functions not only as a place where students can watch a variety of films from different genres, but also discuss their own movie experiences. In the club’s early stages, Lucia was responsible for picking out the movies that were to be viewed by the club; however, she eventually let the choice fall upon the members.
“Once we got a group of interested students I thought it was much better for the students to choose the films they wanted to see,” she said.
Lucia can’t stress enough how important student involvement is for the club, which allows members to show their favorite films to other students. The club also gives a few students the opportunity to screen a related group of films in their own personal series every semester. In the club’s first year, a student not only showed a collection of films from the silent genre, but also took the time to create an original score for one of the silent films. Last semester, the club had students screen their favorite films from directors such as Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino. Lucia said there has been a wide variety, which she finds to be “a lot of fun.”
However, watching movies in the classroom is not the only thing the film club does. At times, the students are given the opportunity to watch press-screenings of newly-released films in New York. Last semester, students were able to see films such as The Roadie and Oscar-winning film A Separation.
“We do it around Christmas time so we [can] take a walk to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller,” Lucia said.
So if you’re interested in watching movies and enjoying the company of similar-minded individuals, join the Alternative Film Club every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Fine Arts room 389.