U of G to host international film series
The University of Guelph is hosting a series of full-day film events at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre to showcase independent films from Iran, Scotland, China and Canada. The first event in the "Beyond Hollywood: Spotlight on International Cinema" series is Sept. 27, with bimonthly events continuing until March. All screenings are free and open to the public.
English and theatre studies professor Paul Salmon and PhD student Debra Henderson are the organizers behind the series. Part of their mandate in film selection was to exhibit cultural and cinematic diversity within each country grouping and throughout the entire series, Salmon said. "I'm a firm believer in the capacity of cinema to accomplish cultural outreach and to bridge possible misunderstandings between cultures," said Salmon.
Henderson, who directed the 25th-anniversary events of the Toronto International Film Festival, was deputy director of the Canadian Film Centre and director of the education and training department at the American Film Institute before beginning her PhD in English, said even she has not had the opportunity to see many of the films. "A lot of these films have never been screened in southwestern Ontario, and this series is a great opportunity to see international cinema right here in Guelph."
The three Iranian films being shown Sept. 27 – Salaam Cinema at 1 p.m., The Wind Will Carry Us at 3 p.m. and Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine at 7 p.m. – are festival favourites from recent years, said Salmon. The plight of women and the socio-economic and political conditions in Iran are some of the themes explored in this series.
"There's no shortage of misunderstandings in the West about what goes on in Iran." he said. "We're at a time period when we need all the insight we can get on that part of the world." Besides bridging cultural misunderstandings, Salmon is eager to expose more people to Iranian film for its quality. "It's very hot international cinema. Some of the top directors are deservedly receiving the kind of acclaim that's usually reserved for the very greatest filmmakers in an era."
Salmon's own favourite Scottish film, Local Hero, will kick off the "Spotlight on Scottish Cinema" Nov. 1. He hopes this and his other two Scottish selections, Shallow Grave and Stella Does Tricks, will show how Scottish cinema distinguishes itself from British cinema.
For the Jan. 24 "Spotlight on Chinese Cinemas," Salmon says he chose films from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to show the diversity of films being made in different regions of China. Little Cheung, The River and Lan Yu will show this range of voices.
The films to be featured in the March 6 "Spotlight on Canadian Cinema" are Inertia, Parsley Days and Khaled. Although well-received at film festivals, these productions have not been widely distributed.
Program notes will be handed out with each series, and there will be time between films for discussion and breaks.
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.