Wednesday Night Cinema Society kicks off new film series curated by grad students

cinema series poster
film poster

The UC Santa Cruz weekly film series, Wednesday Night Cinema Society, is back this year, with films specially curated by grad students.

The theme of the Fall 2015 series is Transgressive Cross-Currents in Film Programming: West Berlin and NYC, 1968-1989, curated by Marc Francis, a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media.

"As the first guest programmer, I will be exhibiting films based on my summer research in New York City and Berlin, where I unearthed programming calendars and schedules to see what films took art-house audiences by storm during this pivotal period of changing sexual and gender politics," said Francis.

“I was interested in what kinds of art-house films were often repeatedly screened in two of the most vanguard artistic meccas of the 20th Century: West Berlin and New York City,” he added.

Wednesday Night Cinema Society was created by UC Santa Cruz film & digital media associate professors Irene Lusztig and Irene Gustafson in 2009.

“We started it in homage to the types of 16mm cinema clubs and film societies that used to thrive on college campuses before the age of home video,” said Lusztig, and “also to address what felt like a lack of informal, communal gathering spaces on campus to watch non-mainstream, experimental, innovative, hard-to-find, and challenging cinema.”

“The idea of making a regular space outside of the classroom to get together and watch things on a big screen felt important and very much needed--for our students, who live in a small city without active alternative screening spaces--and also for ourselves as faculty,” she added.

Lusztig noted that faculty have been showing work regularly on Wednesday nights since the series started, but this is the first year that they are changing the format to invite Ph.D. student guest curators to program each quarter.

“It’s a way for them to think about placing their research questions into a curatorial context,” said Lusztig, who was recently honored with an Excellence in Teaching Award from the UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate. “I hope we are able to continue this format with grad students in future years.”

In Winter quarter, the series will present works which deal with the urban landscape--exploring themes related to urban spaces, human geography, gentrification and processes of change, and the role of nostalgia in response to that change.

“During this quarter, we plan to bring Jenni Olson, an award-winning San Francisco-based filmmaker to present and discuss her most recent film The Royal Road,” said graduate student Christina Corfield, who will be curating the Spring series.

Corfield noted that the winter programming will draw from grad student curator Samuael Topiary’s academic work on urban and environmental gentrification, urban farming, and collective methods of urban planning and design.

Spring quarter will explore the rural landscape—focusing on the pastoral, nature, the travelogue form, and the effects of industry on myths of the American West. This series draws from Corfield’s own research into representations of the American West, and American history.

”During this series, two West Coast artists will visit whose works deal specifically with these themes,” said Corfield. “Matt McCormick, based in Portland, Oregon, produces travelogue films including The Great Northwest which deals with the changing industrial landscape of the Pacific Northwest and the death of road trip culture.”

“Lee Ann Schmidt is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, whose work The Last Buffalo Hunt deals with one of the last open landscapes in America, even while depicting it's demise,” she added.

The Fall 2015 Wednesday Night Cinema Society series kicks off on September 30 with Viktor und Victoria (1933, Reinhold Schunzel), followed by an opening night reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres. All film screenings take place on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Communications 150 (Studio C) on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information and the fall lineup, visit the Film and Digital Media web site or contact