By Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
The Manhattan College Film Society has always been a place for students to unite regularly to screen movies, discuss their ideas and compete in trivia with questions about pop culture. Following a few chaotic semesters, the Film Society is hoping to come back stronger than ever and remain a welcoming place for students.
“So when we were in the pandemic protocols, and we had to go virtual, we watched the movies ourselves, and then would come together on a Google Meet and discuss it,” senior English major and president of the film society, Regan Alejo, said. “But luckily, we’re past that. We usually meet in Miguel 311, the Rodriguez room, where they have the big screen, the projector and stuff, and it’s kind of set up like a movie theater with the rows. And we all sit, we watch it together, and we’ll analyze it, discuss our thoughts and feelings on it, stuff like that.”
The board chooses a theme for each year and compiles a list of movies to fit in the theme where the members of the club can vote from. The theme for the current year is time, where screenings consist of movies like Memento and Interstellar.
“We aim to provide programming that the whole community—students, faculty, and staff—can participate in,” faculty advisor of the society, Meg Toth, Ph.D., wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “We generally organize screenings around a single theme so that post-screening conversations can deepen across the academic year. One thing I love about the Society is that it provides a space where members feel comfortable having serious discussions about film. Don’t get me wrong–we have fun! But members have a respect for the craft and feel safe taking film seriously.”
On campus, Toth is a professor of English and is the director of the film studies minor. She believes the film society provides an open place for all majors and minors to engage in film discussions.
“The MC Film Society isn’t formally linked to the film studies program, though most film studies minors are members,” Toth said. “One major benefit of joining is that you meet like-minded, welcoming students from a host of different majors and schools. That’s something I’ve always prioritized with the Film Society–making sure people know that it is open to everyone. For example, I’ve taught so many engineering and business students who say they wish they could take more film classes, but they don’t have room in their schedules. The Film Society allows them to stay connected to others who love watching and discussing films together.”
Alejo seconds these sentiments, stating how the film society on campus is interdisciplinary and brings a wider view on different aspects of life for members.
I think just in general, being part of just any arts of any kind, or just culture, creativity, pop culture, anything like that, is just beneficial,” Alejo said. “Maybe I’m biased because I’m also an English major, but I feel like those types of things, those types of books, movies, music, stuff like that, bring people together and increase our perspectives on everything in general. So not only is it just fun to watch movies, and get together and stuff like that, but it just kind of gives you a different view on just like the world around you, the people that are just stuff like that.”
Aside from allowing students from all programs to come together and discuss critical issues and opinions based in film and society as a whole, the society allows students to learn more about one another and themselves. Devon Long, senior political science major and chair of themes and film selection, states how she is able to engage with her love for film at school, something which has connected her and her father as she was growing up.
“So, it was kind of a way to reconnect with [my father] in my adult life, but also study something that I grew up with,” Long said. “Like, you know, some people have music with their parents, some people have cooking, mine was always film. And, I was actually born in LA because my dad’s dream for a while was to be an actor.”
Long emphasizes how the screenings or meetings are truly open, and not always so serious. There is a balance between watching films with deep discussion or having a place to watch holiday movies with friends.
“I mean, for Christmas, it offers an opportunity to, you know, sit down with your best friends in a classroom and have snacks provided and watch some Christmas movies,” Long said. “Halloween, it offers you an opportunity to go watch some horror movies, with your friends as well.”
Last year, after a year of meeting on zoom, the society was able to go on a trip to the Museum of Moving Image, truly enhancing the experience of members in learning about film.
Despite a few chaotic semesters with restriction and Toth being on sabbatical for the current year, the board is hoping to increase accessibility with Google Polls, Instagram suggestion boxes, and flyers around campus to spread the word and allow members a chance to decide the screenings. The society is looking for new membership and leadership for the upcoming years as well to keep the members united.
From winning trivia night to debating the effectiveness to the end of interesting films, the Manhattan College Film Society is helping students further engage with each other and their own interests.