Culture at WLU Part 3: Film screenings

Being one of the few schools in the region offering a film studies program, it may come as little surprise to find that Wilfrid Laurier University offers a slew of options for those pursuing the enjoyment of movies.

However, contrary to popular opinion, these options are just as accessible and bound to fascinate students outside of film studies as well as those in the program.

Two main event series stand out: Cinematheque Waterloo movie screenings and Friday Night Films.

Cinematheque Waterloo, entering its second year of existence, is a non-profit initiative largely run by Laurier faculty and graduates that screens films most Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. at the Princess Cinema in Uptown Waterloo, less than a 10 minute walk from campus.

“Its aim is to promote a greater sense of film culture and film awareness in the region, as well as to show films the way they are meant to be seen, in 35mm and on the big screen – to honour each filmmaker’s original purpose,” says Katherine Spring, an assistant film professor at Laurier and member of the Cinematheque Waterloo board.

She continues, stating, “Part of my job as a film professor is to teach students what there is to gain from seeing a film in its original format.

“I can’t expect students to see what they need to see when they download it on their little laptop screen.”

Most of the films scheduled for the fall term are what Spring refers to as “big name films,” including classics of world cinema such as influential science-fiction epic Metropolis and groundbreaking Japanese film Rashomon, intended to provide an introduction to film history while remaining accessible and interesting to those unfamiliar with the medium.

However, Spring is hopeful that the future of Cinematheque Waterloo will “see the region’s community supporting riskier films. I’d like to be able to bring in films that are lesser known, more challenging and attract a similarly enthusiastic crowd.” Spring calls the organization “a gem for students because admission is so inexpensive.”

Cinematheque Waterloo offers annual memberships for $40, giving the owner free admission to all screenings as well as a membership for the Princess Cinemas and Princess Twin, reducing admission prices from $10 to $7 for any film at either cinema.

“My experience as an undergrad was so enriched by these extracurricular film activities, so I think it’s very important that our students and the community take advantage of them,” said Spring.

Friday Night Films, also entering its second year, started out connected to film studies course work, but this year it has opened up to the public, offering free screenings every Friday night in BA 201 at 7:00 p.m.

“We saw it as a way to expand beyond the classroom and have more of a film culture happening at Laurier,” explained Liz Clarke, co-programmer of the series.

She and fellow programmer Patrick Faubert assembled a list of art films titled “Under the Radar: 10 Films You’ve Never Seen”, which is designed to appeal to those inside and outside of film studies.

“We were trying to think of how we could combine the interests of our students and the general public, based around a general film studies style without being too canonical or historically based,” continued Clarke.

“Even though it’s a Friday night, it’s at seven, so people have lots of time to do things afterwards. Plus it’s free.”

While both Cinematheque Waterloo and Friday Night Films organizers acknowledge the importance of accessing films on DVD – calling Waterloo’s independent video rental store Generation X a prime source for difficult-to-find films – they also stress the importance of film viewing as a communal, social experience, one which both series attempt to rekindle.

“The students that I’ve seen come out to Cinematheque really do treat it like a social event – they meet in the lobby of the Princess beforehand, and they often go out for coffee or drinks afterwards,” said Spring.

“And that is exactly what we hope to inspire – that collective, social experience of movie-going, which is lost now, for the most part,” she continued.

Clarke agrees, stating, “Hopefully, being created in a social way, we can get discussions going afterwards, without the added pressure of being in a film studies class.”

Spring keenly explains watching films in public is not only a throwback to the historical intent of movie watching but can also fundamentally improve each viewer’s experience.

“When we watch a comedy at home, maybe we’ll giggle a bit, but when we see it in the theatre we just laugh uproariously, because the audience is laughing too. It’s just more fun.”

This was the final installment of the “Culture at WLU” three-part series.

Upcoming film showings

Sept. 25 – Oct. 2 Bricker Academic Building Expressions of Social Justice Film and Arts Festival

Oct. 15 – 25 The Princess Twin Quantum to Cosmos Perimeter Institute Science Celebration, featuring classics of sci-fi film

Cinematheque screenings:

Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Princess Cinema Midnight Cowboy

Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Princess Cinema Bicycle Thieves

Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Princess Cinema Manhattan

Friday night films:

Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. Bricker Academic Building, room 201 Thieves Like Us

Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Bricker Academic Building, room 201 Tout va Bien

Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. Bricker Academic Building, room 201 Le Cercle Rouge

Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Bricker Academic Building, room 201 Alexander Nevsky

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