New cineclub hits Kwantlen

Dr. Dorothy Barenscott’s new Intro to Film Studies course was a quick catalyst to creating a healthy space for student cinephiles. The result? A cineclub and a possible screening auditorium spearheaded by the Kwantlen professor.

By Kristi Alexandra [culture editor]

When the famed Lumière brothers, a pair of the earliest filmmakers in history, introduced moving pictures to France in 1895, the concept wasn’t widely respected. In fact, many were reluctant to think of film as art and even more thought that “movies” wouldn’t stick around. Even the brothers themselves readily admitted that “the cinema [was] an invention without any future.”

The technology that birthed the mass medium of movies sparked a debate much like the one we’re currently having with the explosion of social media; a debate that has us asking if what’s good for the masses is good for the individual and “is this really going to stick?”

Dr. Dorothy Barenscott, who initiated and instructed the Art History department’s new Intro to Film Studies course, teaches with the same paradigm.

The tech-savvy art historian’s didactic measures include getting students to visit her webpage (www.dorothybarenscott.com), follow her tweets and create discussion through a Facebook page that she’s linked to her blog, the Avant-Guardian—all measures which have helped push the success of the course. But instructing the class wasn’t without its pitfalls.

“One of the biggest hiccups, if you will, was not being able to screen films in comfort,” says Barenscott.

“At SFU, I teach in a true cinema,” she says. “At Kwantlen, I’m screening in regular classrooms with equipment not suitable for showing films.”

One of the initiatives that the avid tweeter is trying to make is converting a space on the Surrey campus into a proper cinema screening room, along with mentoring a “cineclub” for students interested in watching and discussing films outside of the classroom.

“Surrey does not have a repertory theatre which is a crime,” she says. “Part of what we talked about [in class] is how important the actual experience of screening a film is; what it is to be in a dark room; what it is to see things much bigger.”

“If we can do that, not only would that completely shift the comfort level to watch films but it is a true environment in which films should be screened,” she maintains.

The help of having a repertory theatre just might help the course “stick” a little better, and promote a stronger cultural influence at Kwantlen—something that many students know is lacking at our multi-campus university.

Even if the goal of getting proper cinematic facilities isn’t realized, Barenscott upholds that the success of film studies within the Art History department can be measured in other ways.

“For me, the success has already come in terms of opening students on to the idea…that they can appreciate and understand the connection of early filmmaking as tied to the history of these moments and also to the technological changes that are happening now. When you see the transition to colour from black and white, the transition of television taking away from filmmaking: those are the same issues that we’re dealing with now but in different ways.”

Not that the new Kwantlen instructor is about to “give up”, she maintains that “we could create a lot of buzz with a decent repertory theatre. It’s a hole that needs to be filled in this community.”

The Cineclub’s first meeting will take place on Monday, Jan. 31 on the Surrey campus. Dorothy will be heading the meeting in room D128 from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

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