Friday, February 10, 2017

Spring Film Festival Q & A with Dr. Tony Vinci

--> Coming up later this month, Dr. Tony Vinci will host the Spring Film Festival in the Bennett Hall Auditorium. This event, held on two separate nights during the spring semester, analyzes two different films chosen by Vinci, with specific themes in mind. He explained his reasoning for this semester’s selection in a Q & A recently.

Q: What was your reasoning for the films you chose this go around?
A: Like so many others, I’m both interested in and frustrated by the endless parade of remakes and reboots coming out of Hollywood. So, I thought I’d tackle one of the most popular reboots—Star Trek—and study it next to an original film—Serenity. I also thought it’d be cool to examine how a philosophically rich franchise like Star Trek became a mindless popcorn flick and how a little film like Serenity somehow manages to be a superhero movie, an action movie, a drama, a romantic comedy, a mystery, and a political thriller all while transforming the way we think about what it means to be human after 9/11.

Q: What do you hope students take away from each film?
A: With “Star Trek,” I want students to understand how a film can say one thing and do another, how it might inspire positive feelings while encouraging dangerous thoughts and actions.

With “Serenity,” I want students to engage the idea that every utopian vision, every attempt to “fix” the world, no matter how amazing or beautiful it might seem, will ultimately lead to a type of fascism. There is no “fixing” the world because my perfect world might be your hell. So, instead of believing in a perfect political solution to the world’s problems, we must learn how to live in a pluralistic society—a world in which we can hold competing truths in our hands and, instead of turning violent, become curious.

Q: How does activities like the film festival expose students to culture, in your opinion?
A: Students have been trained to not think about stories. Stories exist to entertain us or to help us escape some problem, pain, or personal discomfort—that’s what they’re told. I think that’s dangerous. Very dangerous. The film festival asks students to take themselves and their lives seriously by realizing that films are among the most powerful and significant forces we have in our lives. They give shape to our fears and hopes. They express what we can’t about our lives. Perhaps most importantly, they reveal to us visions (both wondrous and terrible) of our lives that would remain hidden without them.

In summary, Vinci added, “It’s inspiring to know that, in the middle of their busy lives, students will come out for a few hours on a weeknight, and it’s not simply to watch a movie and eat some pizza.” He continued, “The film festival reveals that so many of our students want something more in their lives. They want to think deeply and critically about themselves and the worlds they inhabit. They want to be challenged. They want to be invited into a world that offers them something new, something provocative, something beyond their everyday expectations. And maybe, just maybe, by sitting down in the dark with a group of semi-strangers and watching a story project itself onto the screen, they might fight a trace of what they’ve been searching for. That’s just cool.”

We think it’s cool, too. If you want to join in the fun for the Spring Film Festival, stop by the BHA on February 22 at 6 p.m. to see Star Trek and mark your calendar for March 23 at 6 p.m. to catch Serenity. Free pizza and soft drinks will be available.

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