Movies on Campus: Where? What Do You Want To Watch?


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Students and other members of the HCC community who are passionate about movies can discuss films weekly on Zoom through the HCC Film Program.

Dee Elkerson

Did you know HCC has a movie series you can join?

From the comfort of your home, you can join the program via Zoom and discuss movies with fellow HCC film fanatics.

Group members can receive information about the upcoming films and their themes through books in the Clark Library and emails sent by Academic Affairs.

When the selection of movies is available, an announcement will be made through the HCC Film Festivals page on the Howard Community College website. The page will also provide information about how to sign up once the spring schedule is confirmed.

Once you sign up, you will receive a Zoom link for the discussion, and until then, your only job is to watch the movie! And, of course, you can enjoy all the popcorn in the world along with your favorite drink.

You can choose which movies to watch and which discussions to attend, as group members are not required to participate in each viewing and discussion.

Group members can stream the movie from a platform such as Netflix or rent the DVD version from the county library.

Members can watch the movie on their own time.

Sometimes, I watched the movies in the middle of the night, depending on my schedule. You do not want the films to interfere with your class deadlines.

Participants log on to the Zoom meeting Friday to discuss or listen as a group. The program is fun and is open to students, professors and anyone else who wishes to join.

There is no limitation on viewing capacity, and you can invite whoever you want. This past semester, the group met on Fridays at 7 p.m.

Marie Westhaver, professor of humanities and director of HCC Film Festivals, reported that before the pandemic, there was an international film festival in November during International Education Week and another one during the spring for Diversity Week.

It used to be a week filled with movie viewings in the Monteabaro Recital Hall. Westhaver and film professor Mike Giuliano would host the films and conduct a Q-and-A session afterward.

After the lockdown, they brainstormed ways to allow students to come together and discuss the movies while adhering to Covid guidelines. Once they gathered data from a survey sent to film fans at HCC on the best way to watch movies together while following lockdown norms, Westhaver and Giuliano decided to make selections available through streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Kanopy.

They also incorporated Zoom, making it easier to watch movies together virtually.

Westhaver and Giuliano lead the discussions as an extension of their film classes. Students do not have to be registered in a film class to participate in the movie discussions.

Westhaver commented that “the regulars are the ones who keep coming back for more movies after the film classes.” She pitched the idea to HCC after participating in a Zoom discussion about the movie “Parasite” after a friend introduced her to the Asian American Film Festival.

How are the films picked? Anyone can suggest a theme for the semester by emailing Westhaver and Giuliano.

Once the theme is selected, individual movies are chosen in different ways. Some films are picked based on the theme of the Horowitz Center for that year.

Movies are also selected if they relate to the curriculum for a specific semester or the theme of International Educational Week and the diversity series.

Student input is valuable when deciding which movies to show; if you have a must-see film, recommend it to professors Westhaver and Giuliano by emailing your suggestions and explaining why you think your selection is of interest to the HCC community. After all, who does not love a great movie recommendation?

Last semester, the theme was FOOVIES (Love the title!). Every movie displayed scenes with breathtaking food items, from something as simple as chocolate to more elaborate dishes.

Some of the movies included in the theme were “Eat Drink Man Woman” – which featured a Japanese master chef living with his three daughters; food played a central role in the family and their relationships, “Dough” – the story of a Jewish baker who was struggling until his Muslim apprentice added a secret ingredient to the dough, and “The Lunchbox” – the story of how two strangers met through a lunchbox and built their fantasy world. Seriously, have you seen “The Lunchbox?”

The most recent series included a variety of topics – from relationships to fantastic elements of various cultures. The diversity allows students interested in cinematography and screenwriting to discuss the scenes and offer opinions on what worked and what did not.

If you are interested in producing or directing, you can provide your thoughts on changes that you would like to make.

The professors supply amazing background on the movie location, actors and actresses. They also offer insightful comparisons to other films created by the same writers and producers.

All participants are welcome to listen and share their thoughts on any aspect of the movie. This movie series is for everyone!

If you have an idea for the theme of next semester’s movies, reach out to the professors using your HCC email before Dec. 31; all suggestions are welcome!

The start date for next semester’s movie series has not been announced, but look for the posting in your email newsletter discussing upcoming events. We will see you at the movies!