WKU highlights growing film genre

Mary Anne Andrews

The WKU English Department and the School of Journalism and Broadcasting will host an American Smart Cinema screening and presentation on Tues., April 3.

The screening begins at 2:30 p.m. with “The Savages.” The movie is a dark family drama that exemplifies smart films.

At 4:30 p.m., Claire Perkins, a film and television scholar at Monash University in Australia, will display her book, “American Smart Cinema,” and refreshments will be provided.

At 5 p.m., Perkins and R. Barton Palmer, director of film studies at Clemson University, will participate in a panel presentation.

In her article “Becoming-democratic,” Perkins said that smart cinema is often anti-utopia and attempts to expose the evils of suburbia.

“In these films, the family and suburbia are parallel models of ‘planned environments’ that limit and control the action and identity of characters,” Perkins said.

American Smart Cinema includes films like Magnolia, The Safety of Objects and Donnie Darko.

Associate professor Dawn Hall said activities like this help raise awareness about the growing film major.

“WKU now has a film major as well as a film minor,” Hall said. “Hosting an event that exposes students to multiple types of film as well as to scholars who publish in the field helps enrich their educational experience.”

Ted Hovet, coordinator for the film major and minor, said WKU film students look to smart cinema when making and writing about films.

“Student filmmakers who want to get away from the usual Hollywood formula look to American Smart Cinema for inspiration,” Hovet said. “Also, when I assign essays and presentations in my film classes, students often choose films by these directors to research and write about.”

Hovet said students also choose the themes of smart cinema for films they enter into the WKU film festival.

“I haven’t seen this year’s festival submissions yet, but I’m sure that some will show that influence again,” he said.

Senior Stefan Meadows is the president of the film club and is working on a film for the festival.

“I am in a script-writing class this semester, and I know that the films have personally influenced my screen writing and the way I approach the themes in my work,” Meadows said.

The 17th Annual WKU Film Festival takes place May 2-4 in Mass Media and Technology Hall.