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September 21, 2023

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Students glean culture from Gish foreign films

Every Thursday night, approximately 100 students travel to the Gish Theater in Hanna Hall to watch films from all over the world.

Tim Pogacar, chair of the German-Russian-East Asian Languages department and this year’s organizer of the International Film Series, explains a big part of the University’s mission statement is an emphasis on international matters and cross-cultural communication.

The Provost Office and the Office of Theater and Film fund the International Film Series so students can have the opportunity to watch foreign films on campus. Beyond the Gish Theater, students would have to travel to Cleveland or Detroit to see foreign films on a big screen.

While some ethnic studies and film classes may require students to attend these film showings, many students go to experience culture through an art form.

Senior Kyle Whited, an intern at the Gish Theater, operates the projector and makes fliers to promote the films. He said he chose to intern there because he enjoys the foreign films.

Whited originally started going to the Gish Theater as a requirement for his Introduction to Film class, but he has continued to go to showings because he learned to appreciate foreign films.

“Watching foreign films gives [students] a different perspective on other cultures and other forms of filmmaking outside of Hollywood,” Whited said.

Often, students have ideas about different cultures based on their depiction in the news and through the media, said Valeria Grinberg, assistant professor of Latin American Literature.

By watching a film created within a specific culture, students would have the opportunity to experience the culture in a way they may never have before.

Professors suggest films that parallel their particular courses, but films are also picked based on their country of origin, said Pogacar.

Often, films are chosen when the country they’re from is in the news. The films are opened with a general introduction given by someone who knows the culture of the film.

Last week, Grinberg introduced an Argentinean film, “Los Rubios,” which means “The Blondes” in English.

“Foreign films are a great compliment to readings,” Grinberg said. She suggests that students who want to better understand culture should watch a movie made by people from that culture.

Films shown at the Gish Theater are in their native language, but have subtitles. According to Pogacar, this is a factor that might intimidate some students, but it is necessary to hear the films in the country’s native tongue.

“American’s don’t like subtitles, it’s as simple as that,” Pogacar said.

Many foreign countries dub their films so viewers can watch films in their native language.

The next film in the International Film Series can be seen 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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