Rolling out the red carpet for film symposium debut


The writers of An American Haunting, left, and Soldier’s Heart will be interviewed as part of “Rider Goes to the Movies: The Film Symposium,” which runs from March 3-5 in Sweigart Auditorium, room 115.
The writers of An American Haunting, left, and Soldier’s Heart will be interviewed as part of “Rider Goes to the Movies: The Film Symposium,” which runs from March 3-5 in Sweigart Auditorium, room 115.

By Kaitlin MacRae


Hollywood’s hitting Rider this week as the university’s first film symposium, “Rider Goes to the Movies,” places students and professionals alike in the spotlight.

The three-day symposium is a first for the university. It allows film and media students the opportunity to showcase their work as well as mingle with professionals from the industry. 

“This is the first year in which the Film and Media Studies Minor has actually become an official program of the university,” said the program’s chair, Dr. Cynthia Lucia. “We thought that presenting a big symposium would be a really nice way of celebrating our program’s status and of also making students and faculty aware of all the different things going on within Film and Media Studies.” 

The event will feature student films and papers, as well as appearances by acclaimed screenwriters, directors and critics who will share their work and experiences in cinema. 

The student film festival will screen narrative as well as documentary films, and will also present student TV broadcast programs and feature and experimental films. 

In addition to the festival, “students are also going to be featured in terms of presenting papers they’ve written on cinema subjects,” Lucia said. Paper topics include film theory and form, American masters, sound, music, movement and gender in cinema.

Senior English major Ashley Smith will present two of her papers at the symposium, one of which recently won an English Department Writing Award. 

“The first is titled ‘Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game as a Realist Work and its Effect on the Films of Later Movements — to be presented in March,’” Smith said.

Smith’s award-winning paper, “Patriarchy Under the Lens: Confinement and Constriction in The Shining and Full Metal Jacket,” can be heard at the March 5 panel. 

“I am very happy and excited to be presenting it as part of the symposium,” she said. 

Smith added that besides presenting her papers, she is looking forward to seeing writer William Mastrosimone, who is part of the Local Luminaries event on Tuesday, March 3. 

“Local Luminaries features screenwriters and directors who are all connected with New Jersey or with Rider,” Lucia explained. Mastrosimone, most notable for his work on 2002’s Bang Bang You’re Dead, is a Rider alumnus along with speaker Brian Delate, director of Soldier’s Heart. Both will speak about writing and directing film. 

Rider adjunct professor Brent Monahan will also participate in Local Luminaries. Monahan is the novelist behind An American Haunting, which was adapted into the 2005 movie starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland. 

Also featured in Local Luminaries are documentary filmmakers Janet Gardner and Tom Spain. Movies in America guest speaker Millicent Marcus of Yale University will make an appearance, lecturing on her book Italian Film in the Shadow of the Holocaust.

Prior to the symposium, films by all guest speakers have screened throughout this week in Fine Arts 110. 

Finally, a panel of professional film critics will join the symposium, offering their take on what film criticism is today. 

“These critics are all widely published and well-known,” Lucia said. “They’ll talk about what film criticism is to them, how they got into it and what it means to be a good film critic.”

Influential film critics such as Amy Taubin of Film Comment and Richard Porton of Cineaste are two of several writers on Thursday’s panel. 

Winners of the student films and papers will be announced Thursday after the critics panel.    

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