After a typical movie screening, most people shuffle out of the rows, murmuring to their own groups. There's no time to discuss the thoughts and emotions that ran through everyone's minds while watching the big screen. But after the Carolina Public Humanities Spring Cinema School series, you can. In fact, they hope you do.
The first of four different movie showings at the Chelsea Theater is scheduled to take place on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. featuring the 1976 film, "All the President’s Men.” After the film, conversation will be guided by UNC doctoral student Kirsten Adams.
The Cinema School series began as an opportunity to connect UNC scholars with the general public, and to spark a conversation about topics presented in film, said Rachel Schaevitz, associate director for state outreach and strategic partnerships with Carolina Public Humanities.
“We're super overcommitted — we have our phones in front of our faces constantly, we're just always trying to multitask and do a million things, and when you see a movie in a theater it's one of the only times left when we really put our phones away and turn them off and have a chance to just focus on one thing for a couple hours,” Schaevitz said. “No matter what film we're talking about there's value in just being together, reacting to art together, having a conversation together, that I think is really valuable.”
In its fourth year running, Schaevitz said the theme of this season of Cinema School is connected with elections and is especially timely with the upcoming presidential election this year. However, instead of discussing the politics of today, Schaevitz said the interest is in exploring all the different ways Hollywood has depicted past elections.
Because film often depicts fictional characters and events or something that happened in the past, it creates distance, allowing for respectful conversations about polarizing topics, Schaevitz said.
“It makes it a little easier for people to have those conversations when there's some space," Schaevitz said.
That space is part of the reason Adams is prepared to lead discussion this Wednesday. Adams said part of her research revolves around the idea of collective memory, or the way that we think of events as they unfold and the way that we think of events years after they happen. Combining that concept with her passion for political journalism, Adams said she believes there will be valuable discussion after the screening.
“I think 'All the President's Men' is the gold standard for films that highlight the relationship, and the very complex relationship, between the press and politics,” Adams said. “There is certainly a lot of interesting implications about this idea of presidential overreach that I think is quite timely, and I imagine would make for a pretty lively discussion.”
For Emily Kass, executive director of the Chelsea Theater, the kinds of discussions that come from film are extremely valuable. The partnership with Carolina Public Humanities brings multiple perspectives to their audiences and exposes the community to conversations they might not otherwise have, if it were not for the films they show, Kass said.
“Sometimes there are very difficult issues that it's hard to have a conversation about," Kass said. "But by talking about a film, it brings people together in a theater so you can have a community conversation."
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.