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Learning in the dark: Celluloid Cinema makes watching old movies that new thing

Learning in the dark: Celluloid Cinema makes watching old movies that new thing

Celluloid Cinema is a screening series put on by Mountaineer Media, a Film Studies co-curricular. Students who assist with Celluloid Cinema are all members of Mountaineer Media and these students all have a lot of love for old film. Last year was Celluloid Cinema’s first; the new series was an idea that came together based off old 16 mm films in Taylor Hall.

“Celluloid Cinema came out of a funny conversation with Dr. Terry Schliesman,” said Melissa Myser, professor of Communication Arts. “Dr. Schliesman discovered that in a storage closet in the depths of Taylor Hall we had a pretty good-sized collection of 16 mm prints that were once housed in the library.”

Western’s library was making room to bring in digital forms of movies, and the right people caught the 16 mm films and brought them to Taylor Hall.

“Dr. Schliesman knew I had a background in film and interest in programming and said ‘Why don’t we do something with those prints?’ Myser said. “From that hallway conversation, Celluloid Cinema was born!”

This year, the cinema series’ theme is crucial films from history; films that everyone needs to see and experience; films that no matter where you end up, someone will reference and talk about.

Students Rusty Baldwin and Sam Thornley took an interest in Celluloid Cinema and are working with Myser to create an outline for the next movie showing.

October’s movie showing is “Knife in the Water,” perfect for Halloween. When finals are approaching, the Celluloid Cinema plans to show “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock,” a strange comedy that will lighten students’ moods.

“Our goal for this year is for Celluloid Cinema to reach a larger audience,” Myser said. “We have a small group of normal viewers, but we want this to become a community event for everyone to look forward to and experience together.”

Celluloid Cinema is a way for Western students to view 16 mm films for free while learning about the movie, the time period, what was going on when it was released and facts about the films that not every student would know.

The joy of film happens in the movie theater and Celluloid Cinema brings these films to the theater on campus. Students and community members get to enjoy original films in the comfort of a movie theater, bringing the learning out of the classroom and into another space on campus.

“Our current culture of film viewing happens on our couch in our living room, usually doing a few different things.” Myser said. “But the true experience of cinema happens in a dark theater with a handful of people you don’t know focusing intently on the story, and all experiencing the same ride together.”

All of the screenings are free and open to the public. Students are encouraged to bring friends, some popcorn and a soda to watch some great old films

“We don’t bite, but we do love to hang out in the dark!” Myser said with a smile.

Any student who is interested in the films is welcome to attend the showings, and students from any major can join both Mountaineer Media and Celluloid Cinema.

Mountaineer Media meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in Taylor 124. For more information, contact Myser at mmyser@western.edu.

Story by Grace Flynn. Photos by Grace Flynn.

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