Andy Gillies is returning to his alma mater, and he’s bringing his directorial debut film with him.
The 2004 Lawrence graduate will be on hand for a screening of his feature-length film “Oconomowoc” Thursday, May 2 at 9 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. Sponsored by the Lawrence University Film Club, the screening is free and open to the public.
Gillies, who wrote, directed and acted in the film, will conduct a Q & A following its screening.
A deadpan comedy set in its title Waukesha County town (the hometown of a one-time girlfriend of Gillies), the film has more Lawrentian fingerprints on it than just Gillies.’ The story follows 20-something slacker Lonnie Washington, portrayed by fellow 2004 Lawrence graduate Brendan Marshall-Rashid with “goofy soulfulness” as noted by the Hollywood Reporter, who moves back home.
Quirky characters abound, including Todd, Lonnie’s 30-year-old stepfather played by 2005 Lawrence grad Andrew Rozanski, and Travis, an old friend eager to recruit Lonnie in a poorly run T-shirt making business, portrayed by Gillies.
Deemed “an engagingly cynical ode to futility” by Slate Magazine, the film’s do-it-yourself aesthetic is complimented by an improvised acoustic score composed by Gillies, Marshall-Rashid and director of photography/editor Joe Haas.
Five rarely-screened international films will be presented Feb. 19-27 in Lawrence University’s film festival “КИÑО: Exchanges between Soviet and Hispanic Cinema.”
The festival will explore the cinematographic and thematic exchange between Soviet and Hispanic cinematic traditions.
All films, with English subtitles, will be shown in Main Hall 201 at 4:30 p.m. on their respective dates. Each film will be preceded by a small presentation and an interactive audience discussion will follow the screening. All film showings are free and open to the public.
Organized by Lawrence’s Russian and Spanish departments and the film studies program, the festival showcases films by prominent directors such as Sergei Eisenstein and Luis Bunuel, whose work reflected the political climate of their own countries as well as those experiencing revolution far away.
The film festival schedule includes:
• Tuesday, Feb. 19— “Que Viva Mexico!” 1932, Soviet Union, directed by Sergei Eisenstein.
Shot in 1931-32, “Que Viva Mexico!” originally was intended to be an episodic study of Mexico’s ethnography and symbols against the backdrop of its colonial history up to the early 20th century. But a series of political and economic intrigues prevented legendary Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein from properly editing his film. In 1979, this version of the film was reconstructed by Eisenstein’s assistant director from his former mentor’s notes.
• Wednesday, Feb. 20 — “Maria Candelaria,” 1943, Mexico, directed by Emilio Fernández.
Maria Candelaria, a young woman, is shunned by local townsfolk because her mother once posed naked for an artist and was stoned to death because of the incident. She must consider the consequences while making a similar choice.
• Thursday, Feb. 21 —”Soy Cuba,” 1964, Cuba, Soviet Union, directed by Mikhail Kalatozov.
Set in the final days of the Batista regime in Cuba, the movie uses four distinct short stories, two to illustrate the ills that led to the revolution and two that highlight the call to arms.
• Tuesday, Feb. 26 —“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” 1972, France, Spain, directed by Luis Buñuel.
Luis Buñuel’s Academy-Award-winning film follows a group of well-to-do friends who attempt to gather for a social evening but are thwarted at every turn. Seeming at first to be a simple scheduling mistake, the obstacles become increasingly bizarre.
• Wednesday, Feb. 27 —“Death of a Bureaucrat,” 1966, Cuba, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.
After an inventor dies and is buried with his union card, government red tape prevents his widow from collecting any pension money, so she attempts to rob her husband’s grave. A morbid subject with a humorous treatment, the film mocks Cuba’s bungling bureaucracy.
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.
Issues ranging from homelessness to racial diversity will be explored in a series of short, student-produced films in Lawrence University’s first Human Rights Student Film Festival Wednesday, March 28 from 5-7 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. The festival is free and open to the public.
The films are the culminating assignment of the English department class “Literature and Human Rights,” in which each student researched a human rights or social justice topic of individual interest and then produced a short film that either advocated or analyzed that topic. Seven of the 17 films created for the class will be screened for the festival. Each film is between four and five and one-half minutes in length.
Lena Khor, assistant professor of English, team-taught the course with artist-in-residence and award-winning documentary filmmaker Catherine Tatge.
The goal of the project, according to Khor, was three-fold: invite students to experience first-hand the aesthetic and ethical dilemmas of representing human rights and their violations; provide opportunities to creatively tell a story or make an argument in a multimedia format; and encourage engagement with various communities — Lawrence, Appleton and beyond.
“The students produced some wonderful films on important topics,” said Khor. “They impressed me with the passion, thought and energy with which they approached this project. Considering most of them had never made a film before, they all should really be proud of their accomplishments.
“This film festival is not just a way to showcase the excellent work the students have done in this class,” Khor added. “It’s also intended to generate discussion on and off campus about social justice issues that are relevant to our everyday lives here and elsewhere.”
Lawrence’s video editor Anna Johnson Ryndova served as a technical consultant to the students on the project.
The festival films scheduled to be shown and their student producers are:
• “People in Need, Changing the Face of Homeless (Austin Rohaly ’15). This film attempts to change the way in which people in need are stereotyped and offer help to organizations in need of volunteers within the Appleton area.
• “FacebΘΘk” (Fanny Lau ’14). An exploration of Facebook’s violation of privacy and how users can protect themselves.
• “There and Back Again” (Matthew Lowe ’14). An examination of the human rights violations that occur as a result of a globalized economic system that seeks to minimize costs and maximize profits. As consumers, however, we have the power to vote with our money and our voice to make effective change.
• “Speak to Me” (Conor Beaulieu ’15). A look into America’s crippling lack of language diversity.
• “Ethical Considerations in Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’” (Sam Neufeld ’15). An exploration of the ethical issues associated with Art Spiegelman’s decision to portray the Holocaust in a comic book format and the importance of form in human rights literature.
• “Let’s Talk About Race” (Tammy Tran ’14). Racial diversity on the Lawrence campus is examined while addressing the need to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate differences in the student body on a deeper level.
• “Human Rights: The Next Big Thing? (Heather Carr ‘15). This film examines the fad-like quality of human rights advocacy through the lens of the organization Invisible Children.
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges by Forbes, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries. Follow us on Facebook.
President Jill Beck announced a $5 million gift from Lawrence graduates Tom and Julie Hurvis that will support the establishment of The Hurvis Center for Interdisciplinary Film Studies, a facility dedicated to the integration of film production into the Lawrence curriculum.
The $5 million gift from the Hurvis Charitable Foundation was a part of Lawrence’s recently concluded “More Light!” campaign that raised more than $160 million.
The opening of the Hurvis Center will expand the scope of Lawrence’s current film curriculum, physically and intellectually. The program currently includes interdisciplinary courses on film theory, history and analysis. The gift will create a fully functional film production studio supporting students’ creation of film and video for artistic and scholarly expression.
Beginning with its signature course, Freshman Studies, Lawrence provides a rigorous education in the traditional forms of literacy — cogent writing and oral dialogue. The enhanced film program will complement those traditions by engaging students in a third form of literacy essential for the 21st century: the visual literacy of film and video.
“Students already learn to ‘read’ film through our existing film theory and history curriculum,” said Beck. “The expanded program made possible by Tom and Julie Hurvis will enable students to learn to ‘write’ as well, producing original documentaries and creative films to express ideas, to raise awareness about issues of concern, and to share research with scholarly and community audiences.
“We are fortunate that an imaginative interdisciplinary approach to film studies has evolved and grown at Lawrence over the past many years,” Beck added. “The Hurvis gift recognizes that fact and generously provides us with the opportunity to add film production to our students’ education and integrate production into our existing program.”
Tom Hurvis, a 1960 Lawrence graduate and chairman and CEO of Old World Industries in Chicago, sees the program as a “game-changer for Lawrence.”
“It really puts the college into a different arena,” said Hurvis. “Here’s an innovation that is something new and it definitely fits with Lawrence. What else could potentially bring so many different members of the faculty together?”
Award-winning filmmaker Catherine Tatge, a 1972 Lawrence graduate, will serve as a consultant to help get the program launched, offering workshops, assisting students and faculty with specific projects, and consulting with film studies faculty on how the Hurvis gift can best be put to use in curricular development.
“Catherine has expressed enthusiasm for the existing film studies program and is eager to work with faculty on an enhanced program that reflects Lawrence’s distinctiveness,” said Beck.
With more than 25 years of filmmaking experience, Tatge brings a unique vision for the development of a program that will be integrated through diverse areas of the Lawrence curriculum.
“I’m very excited about this new program,” said Tatge, whose latest documentary film, “John Muir in the New World,” premiered on PBS’ “American Masters” series earlier this year. “As a Lawrence graduate, I know the culture of this institution. Developing this program is really going to be a process, working with the faculty and with students to help build something that is uniquely tailored to Lawrence.”
The Hurvises are looking forward to watching the evolution of a distinctive film program rooted in Lawrence’s liberal arts tradition.
“This project is open-ended,” said Julie Hurvis, who graduated from Lawrence in 1961 with a degree in studio art. “We’re excited about it becoming a reality, as people are hired and begin working on the program.”
Filmmaking at Lawrence will promote cross fertilization throughout the campus, drawing upon resources from music performance, composition and arranging, art, dance, theatre, and creative writing. It aspires to engage many academic departments by making film another way for students and faculty to disseminate disciplinary research and ideas.
“Lawrence already has very good creative synergy with the conservatory of music, with art, the theatre department and other creative areas, so the film program will be a beautiful tie-in to all of those different creative juices,” said Tom Hurvis.
“I see bringing different parts of the university together to work on different aspects of the media and cinema process so that students will leave Lawrence being media-savvy and capable of effectively communicating their ideas,” added Tatge.
The Hurvis Center will be located in the renovated lower level of the former Jason Downer Commons. It will provide more than 5,500 square feet of new academic programming space, including a 2,000-square-foot central performance and screening venue for use by film studies and other disciplines, including theatre, dance and music. The large and flexible space will promote collaboration and cross fertilization among multiple disciplines.
The gift also will support the addition of a new faculty position to develop new offerings on filmmaking and a technical position to provide expertise in maintaining equipment and instruction on how to use it.
“Lawrence is truly fortunate to have philanthropists like Tom and Julie Hurvis among its alumni,” said Beck. “They have a wonderful vision for Lawrence as one of the very best liberal arts institutions in the nation and have made landmark investments in the college to help it achieve that stature.”
Tom and Julie Hurvis’ interests in film include serving as producers of the 2009 award-winning documentary film “The Providence Effect.” Winner of two film festival “Best Documentary” awards, the film chronicles the efforts of Paul Adams to transform Providence St. Mel, an all-black parochial school on Chicago’s notorious drug-ridden, gang-ruled West Side into a first-rank college preparatory school for its African-American student body.
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.