Photos by Matthew Claybrook
After attending the Classical Receptions film series their freshman year, sophomores Margaret Lupo and Allison Carr decided to create a club dedicated to the appreciation of film. After nearly two semesters as a club, they’re excited to continue growing.
Long before Lupo and Carr’s film club, Benjamin Eldon Stevens, assistant professor of classical studies, began a tradition of showing films that related to his classes.
“I’ve shown probably 75–80 separate films over the four years, and especially in the second to third years, there started to develop a core group of students who would attend week by week even when they weren’t part of the course, which was exciting,” Stevens said. “It became clear that for them and their friends, it was becoming a fun but also informative thing they could do every week.”
Lupo, the club’s president, was part of this group. She started to wonder how she could expand the series’s impact
“I was asking myself, ‘How can I maximize this time that I’m spending and maybe make it something that more people can take advantage of, people who may not necessarily be in one of Dr. Stevens’s classes who may not be exposed to it?’” Lupo said. “I approached Dr. Stevens and asked if he would be willing to help me make the film series into a film club, and he said, ‘Yes, I’ve been waiting for someone to ask’.”
For Stevens, watching his series inspire the club has been rewarding.
“From my perspective, it was wonderful to see that kind of stepwise progression from being partly required for students in my courses and partly optional for students in related courses and with related interests, to that second stage of that core of ‘frequent fliers’ who were coming week by week out of sheer interest in film,” Stevens said. “Then the students on their own initiative came to ask, ‘Is there something else we can do about this?’ And the film club was born. This was very exciting for me.”
Since the club began, the film series has featured a wide variety of films, such as “The Matrix” and “Moulin Rouge.” One of Carr’s favorites was “Winter’s Bone,” while Stevens and Lupo raved about “Coco.” Stevens spoke to the emotional nature of “Coco” specifically, as well as many of the other films shown in the series.
“I’m very happy that by the end of the screening, there was not a dry eye,” Stevens said. “That was a very heartwarming moment.”
The club is currently dependent upon the Classical Receptions film series in order to show content. According to Lupo, they would have to buy the rights to each film in order to present it themselves, but Stevens’ film series is not required to do the same because it is tied to his classes and therefore qualifies for Academic Fair Use.
“He sets the film schedule. I have a little bit of say in that, but because it’s tied to his classes, the final say is with him,” Lupo said. “However, we’re looking to get to a point where we can be more independent and buy the rights to our own films. That’s our next step as a club.”
In addition to attending the Classical Receptions film series, the club hosts meetings every other Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Northrup Hall room 332. According to Lupo and Carr, they ask each member to watch a film on their own time in addition to the one shown during the film series so that there is more content to discuss.
One of the biggest events put on by the film club this year was their Oscars watch party, which featured food and predictions sheets.
“People enjoyed having the space to come and spend time with their friends and eat food and take a brain break,” Carr said. “That’s what I think we really want the club to be: where you maybe gain knowledge, but you also get to relax and take a break from school stress or life stress.”
Looking ahead, Lupo is optimistic for the club to expand its scope and numbers in coming years.
“We welcome anyone and everyone, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re a novice or you’re a total film buff,” Lupo said.
Stevens thinks that the strength of the series and the club is the community it fosters around films.
“What we show seems to capture the imagination so much that time seems to stand still. That’s what I love,” Stevens said. “We put away cell phones, we lower the lights and we’re just there in this old-fashioned community experience of watching a film together.”
For those interested in joining the club, Lupo sends out a weekly email with information. Prospective members can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.