Film series brings alternative cinema to UC


Grace Barattini, Assistant Features Editor

Back in 1964, undergraduate student Jurji Savyckyj created a committee in hopes to launch a film series at UC. The overall goal of creating the series was to bring European films to campus. 

 Until 2000, the film series had been intermittent but it all changed when Professor of Communication and Media Jeff Miller rebranded the series as [email protected].

 The documentary “The Quiet One,” was planned to be the series’ debut film in 1964. However, for an unknown reason, the film was cancelled and “On the Waterfront” ended up being the first film screened.  

 Films such as “Chungking Express” and “A Reason to Believe” premiered at UC during the time the program ran. The director of “A Reason to Believe” joined students in viewing the film and spoke on the drama of drinking and date rape happening on college campuses. 

 When selecting films for the series every semester, Miller said he keeps many things in mind. Most importantly, he said he looks for films that spark active engagement from students and community members so that they can experience something different through cinema. 

 “I select films with several criteria in mind but mostly, I try to show films released within the past year that have earned critical acclaim or attracted attention at film festivals and that are unlikely to appear at the local multiplex,” Miller said. 

 Foreign films, documentaires and independent films are also considered for the series, as they are often overlooked by big Hollywood productions. 

 Miller said he enjoys watching movies for his own entertainment but also presenting movies that students at UC might not be motivated to seek out on their own. Students are often surprised with the film selections that are not well known and possibly produced in other countries such as Tibet and Iceland. 

  “I hope that this experience opens (students’) eyes to the diverse and wonderful world of films out there,” Miller said. 

 In addition to showcasing independent and foreign films, Miller sometimes likes to select movies that discuss important topics. This semester, some of the movies tackle the history of racism in America, the struggle of young working-class women and escaping toxic domestic violence. 

 One of the upcoming films, the drama,“The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open,” tells the story of an indigenous Canadian woman who is attempting to create a new life for herself after escaping domestic violence. 

 “This film addresses the widespread problem of violence against First Nations women in Canada and the U.S., too,” Miller said. 

 Miller’s favorite film this semester was “Jinpa,” shown on Thursday, Jan. 30, and that presents the story of a truck driver who picks up a hitchhiker who plans to murder a man who wronged him. 

 “The movie is so beautifully filmed and forces you to ponder how small decisions and coincidences can lead to much, much larger consequences,” Miller said. 

 Another film Miller is looking forward to this semester is “Where the Pavement Ends,” which unvails the long history of institutional racism in Ferguson, Missouri, for generations, even before the tragic murder of Michael Brown in 2014. 

 Directing and continuing this film series has allowed Miller to conduct research, as well as present and watch films that are from all over the world, giving students the opportunity to experience them. 

 “I choose to continue the film series because it has already become an integral part of campus life and the community’s arts and cultural scene,” Miller said. “Students are likely to be surprised by how much they enjoy films that they might not have sought out on their own, or that might have seemed too intimidating or out of the ordinary.”