Film Society Brings Students Together in Time of COVID

by, Shannon Gleba and Jasmine Allen, Copy Editor and Contributor

This semester has been nothing short of untraditional. Everyone has had to adapt to a new way of doing things in light of current safety measures, including Manhattan College’s Film Society. 

In the past, the Film Society would organize viewing parties of numerous films throughout the year and hold intellectual discussions after each one. Additionally, the organization would often take trips that had relevance to film, and they would have guests from the film industry come speak on campus. The club has held onto the tradition of choosing a theme for the year’s films. This year’s theme is social justice.

President of the Film Society, junior Regan Alejo, reminisced on what the members would typically do together in the past. 

“For the most part we watch and discuss movies,” Alejo said. “Sometimes we have special events like game nights or Oscar parties. Before quarantine we had a few outings like going to the theater together and such. We’ve been planning a trip to the Museum of the Moving Image for a while now too but COVID put a damper in those plans. Overall, we just do anything related to film that we think would be enjoyable for our members.” 

Despite the fact that these events will have to be different this year, the Film Society is ready to get started. Margaret Toth, a professor of English at MC and the advisor for the Film Society, has overseen the planning of some events to keep members active.

“We have various virtual events planned, including watch parties, film discussions [along the lines of a book club model], script readings, trivia events, and possible virtual tours and museums,” Toth said. “We are also considering a short screenplay competition.”

Alejo also shared some of the club’s planned events.

“Since we can’t meet in person anymore we unfortunately had to change a lot about the way we ran things,” she said. “For one, we’ve adapted our screenings and discussions to be online and over Google meet. Our themed viewings are going to run more like how book clubs do where we watch the selected movie beforehand and have the presenter lead a discussion online instead. Game nights and script readings will be run online too. On top of that, our alternative to our outings will be virtual museum tours and Netflix parties.”.

Alfonse Calato, a senior and the Film Society’s director of special events, wants all students to know they are welcome to join the Film Society in whatever capacity they would like.

“If you like movies, even if it’s just casually, the Film Society is an excellent club that can be the club you go to for deep film discussions or the club you go to just to watch a movie,” Calato said.

Marissa Washington ‘19, a previous president for the film society, raved that it seems as though the Film Society has been a success for years, and this one will be no different. 

“It was doing well before I started running it, too,” Washington said. 

Toth also encourages students to get involved, especially during such uncertain times.

“I believe film is essential right now,” said Toth. “Since its inception, film as an art form has brought people together. While we now often watch films alone — sometimes on small screens like computers or even our phones — it’s important to remember that it is, at heart, a communal art, meant to be consumed among others. This year we will find creative ways to maintain that sense of community. I also believe that literature, film, and other modes of art take on more power in moments of cultural crisis. They not only allow us to see our world in new ways but also help us work through our fears and identify pockets of hope.”