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Shifting the Spotlight

Hollywood produces films that are meant for the big screen, seen by individuals informed by massive marketing campaigns and advertisements created by highly paid professionals. These movies can be great critical successes, noted by the viewers and writers who attend showings that are easily accessible, but they tend to be made by the same group of people. Directors are known for their work and continue to be funded by investors who understand that they have a blockbuster on their hands, but there is something lost in only viewing movies made by the cinematic elite.

The Kalamazoo Film Society, collaborating with the local Celebration Cinema, has a mission to expose to the public the lack of outsiders displayed in the common theater-going experience by endorsing the Indie Film Festival. The festival is an ongoing event that brings new independent films to the big screen, with new options for viewing each week.

The Society’s mission is to “provide the community with first-run, world-class cinema which includes both independent and foreign films that would otherwise not be offered locally.” This is being done by including films from directors and writers who do not form a part of the exclusive Hollywood clubs. Films are chosen by reviewing lists of participants and winners of films festivals such as Cannes and Sundance, as well as inclusions at the Society’s own discretion based on what they deem to be important films in the American independent film movement.

This past week, a variety of films were being shown including Score: A Film Music Documentary which included Kalamazoo College’s very own Dr. Siu-Lan Tan. The documentary shows the importance of music in film, the process behind creating it, and utilizes Tan’s expertise to inform the public on the psychological aspect behind the use of scores. In addition to regular showings, special sessions were held with question and answer periods with Tan.

Other films shown during the past week are The Trip to Spain, the third installment of a comedy series revolving around the two comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (who play themselves) on a conversation oriented food tasting trip around Spain. Depending on the viewer’s reaction to British comedy and ability to relate to the two friends who verbally attack each other to express affection, the movie can be interpreted anywhere from dull to tear-jerkingly hilarious.

Another, more serious film shown was A Ghost Story which centers around a ghost clad in a white sheet who returns to his old home and watches the unfolding of a series of relationships. The film speaks about loss and the melancholy feeling that goes with the inability to interact with others. Critically acclaimed and worth the watch, it challenges the assumptions of what a ghost story can be.

It is perhaps best described by the Indie Film Series Chief Creative Officer, Eric Kuiper that “indie films disrupt us by giving voice to stories that otherwise are not being told — stories we need to hear.” It is with this inclusion of relatively unwatched cinema that audiences can grant access to those outside the elite associations of famous filmmakers, an important task that is being undertaken by local organizations.

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Shifting the Spotlight