Section: Features

Bicentennial Film Festival to showcase alumni, faculty films

Bicentennial Film Festival to showcase alumni, faculty films

COURTESY OF STRATEGIC MOTION VENTURES

Lights, camera, Kenyon! The College boasts many successful alumni in film and television, with big names like Paul Newman ’49, Allison Janney ’82 and Josh Radnor ’96 all calling the Hill home at some point in their lives. In honor of our 200th year, the Bicentennial Film Festival headed by Director of Campus Events Howard Grier plans to highlight Kenyon’s cinematic talent — with input from viewers like you.

On Feb. 19, the Bicentennial Tri-Chairs sent out a student-info email advertising a “yearlong film festival showcasing the work of Kenyon [alumni] and faculty.” Attached was a Google form filled with movies connected to the College in some way. From adaptations of books by Kenyon authors, such as the 2014 iteration of John Green ’00’s The Fault in Our Stars, to screenplays written and directed by alumni, the list draws from every era and genre of film. The form asks respondents to rank their interest in each movie and indicate what times they would prefer for screenings, ensuring that a large number of viewers will be able to attend.

Grier explained that the festival has been in the works for quite some time: “The idea of hosting an alumni and faculty film festival as part of our Bicentennial celebration goes back to the very initial discussions of how to celebrate this milestone for the College,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The goal is to spotlight creativity on the Hill and beyond, as well as to provide entertainment.” 

The task of deciding which films to place on the form proved to be a challenge, with a wealth of material to choose from and some limitations on what was available to be screened. “In selecting the films to include on the ballot, the top priority was showcasing a broad range of Kenyon talent, but we also had to deal with the restrictions of licensing titles for public viewing,” Grier wrote. The form boasts 32 different movies, leaving respondents with plenty of options to choose from. “We wanted to include more than just our well-known acting alumni in the mix,” Grier added. “We even snuck in a documentary about Bill Watterson, who created Calvin and Hobbes.”

Grier explained that the choice to have students weigh in on which films to screen was very intentional: “Though all are welcome to attend, the Bicentennial Planning Committee is putting together the festival primarily for students, so, of course, we wanted their input on what to show.” He added, “The festival is meant to provide entertainment for the whole campus, but if the films spark conversations, it would be a great fit with Kenyon’s mission.”

While Grier does not have any favorites on the list of choices, he does have “a few titles that [he is] secretly rooting for.” He also noted that a number of feature-length works by faculty in the Department of Dance, Drama and Film will be shown as part of the festival “as those films are not regularly showcased on campus.”

For all the bona fide movie buffs and cinema connoisseurs on the Hill, the Bicentennial Film Festival promises much to look forward to. And for those whose film-fiend friends drag them along, fear not! When asked if snacks would be provided at the screenings, Grier responded “Absolutely!” The deadline to fill out the form is March 1, and screenings will be held in the Oden Auditorium throughout the spring and fall 2024 semesters.

Collegian advisor Molly Vogel ’00 is a Bicentennial Tri-Chair.

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