Celebrating the arts with film

GeraldButters

Gerald Butters, Professor of History, oversees the annual AU Film Series.

By Gerald Butters, Professor of History

When we think of movies, we usually think of entertainment—sitting in a theater munching on our popcorn watching the previews of upcoming features or perhaps in the “man cave” before a large plasma screen. From their inception, motion pictures also have been artistic forms that have moved us, taught us to appreciate diversity, made us angry at injustice and brought us together as a nation.

For more than a decade, the Aurora University Film Series has challenged students and other audience members to think about films as being beyond simple entertainment. The series is directly connected to our General Education program and the mission of the university—to be an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning. Films can transform us—”Schindler’s List,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Social Network” and “Boys Don’t Cry” are examples of movies that have had us think deep and hard about the Holocaust, slavery, technology and intolerance.

The Film Series pairs an AU professor, who because of his or her specialization or interest, introduces the film and then leads a discussion following the screening. The sharing between students and community members that takes place in these discussions is valuable. Students might question the significance of watching a silent film or one in black and white, or one in a foreign language, but quite frequently thank me afterwards for exposing them to a movie that they otherwise might never see.

Our current generation of students are often described as visual learners, so artistic mediums such as film play an increasingly important role in the learning process. I invite you to explore a new film or rediscover an old favorite with us this semester. The spring series will feature six films highlighting the history of popular music in America. The series begins this Monday, January 13, at 7:30 p.m. featuring “The Blues and Gospel Music” in Perry Theatre (349 S.Gladstone Ave.). For more information about the six sessions, visit americasmusic.tribecafilminstitute.org. See you at the movies!