News: Calvin Film Forum Gets Rolling

Looking for something a little more satisfying than the usual flick found on your average dorm room shelf? Come to one of the events held by the Calvin Film Forum, an organization formed by several faculty members sharing a love for quality cinema. This group, hoping to reach students, faculty, and the surrounding community, is dedicated to discussing and viewing classic films as well as offering lectures by featured film experts, be it directors, screenwriters, or critics.

“We’re filling a hole,” Peggy Goetz, one of the faculty members on the forum, says. Students looking for more than the box office hits offered most Friday nights on campus can find an outlet in the Film Forum. This semester’s series, ending November seventh, has featured discussions led by two critics (Calvin English professor Roy Anker on Dead Man Walking and Aquinas College film professor Andrew Jefchak on North by Northwest) and producer/director James Ault presenting Born Again: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church. The series will conclude with a discussion of Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites, led by filmmaker Carl Byker.

While this semester’s series includes a significant number of spiritual and religious themes, the Film Forum is not confined to specific subject matters. Last year the series was focused on Western favorites including Stagecoach and High Noon, and next semester the forum hopes to feature production designer Jeannine Oppewall, who worked on the sets of such films as Seabiscuit and Catch Me if You Can. They also hope to conduct a series on Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

With a tight budget and the challenge of payment rights (even though there is no admission charge, Calvin must pay for the rights to show the films), the Forum has many obstacles to overcome. But the discussion initiated by audience members and the insight of film experts are obvious rewards visible through the growing number of interested spectators. “People are responding to what they’ve seen,” Goetz explains. “It helps you look at film in a different way.” Pulling away from the typical conveyer belt production line films, the Film Forum is an opportunity to view, discuss, and appreciate film on a deeper, more intellectual level.

—Kaitlyn Bohlin