UC FIlm Series
The Utica College Film Series is once again open, not only to students who aren’t enrolled in the class, but to members of the public, too. Professor Jeffrey Miller, who has run the series for more than 20 years, is thrilled at the change from last semester.
“Under the dark cloud of COVID, the series was just me and nine students, sitting six feet apart in this massive auditorium,” Miller said.
In contrast, there was a large turnout last week, and there are hopes the number will only grow from there.
The Film Series is truly a passion project for Miller.
“The reason I do it is I really do get a lot of pleasure from bringing these films to the college that otherwise students and people from the community might never see,” he said.
Miller compared the feeling of finding a good movie from another country to that of finding a band before everyone else does.
“I know that people come from off campus and I love that, and love to show them movies they would not otherwise find,” Miller said. “I tend to think of students first and I try to think of what would really open their eyes. I’m not against The Avengers and X-Men movies, those are all wonderful and I can watch them like any other normal person, but showing a movie that no matter how hard you try you can’t find otherwise, that’s really something special.”
Freshman Ashley Tavarez said when she heard that films from all over the world would be showing, she was thrilled.
“We’re so used to hearing that American narrative about how great America is, but we never get to hear the outside perspectives,” Tavarez said. “So finally having a class that focuses on cultures that are everything but American is amazing.”
Often, Utica College is one of the only places in the U.S. that the films shown in the UC Film Series are available.
“Undine (showing Sept. 16) is literally an exclusive,” Miller said. “It took me almost two years to get the rights to show it from a French company, so it takes work, but it is a labor of love.”
According to Miller, often the cultural differences in a foreign movie can be just enough of an obstacle to turn people off, and they would rather not try to understand. As such, before each showing, he will introduce a film by pointing out some of those differences while providing a lens to help make sense of them.
“There’s always the element of human emotions, which at the core tend to be very similar in all these wonderfully diverse cultures,” Miller said. “Human emotions are human emotions. These films all have different cultures – their foods are different, their clothes are different, their relationships are different, their institutions are different – but they all have emotion.”
Tavarez experienced this in her first film of the semester. “I cried at the end of the movie,” she said. “Me and my friend were both tearing up throughout it.”
Tavarez said she was able to relate with the main character, despite their cultures being so different and was able to connect his experiences to her own.
Next week, the Utica College Film Series will show Undine, the modern-day love story of a museum historian in Berlin that is complicated by the fact that she is a mythological water nymph who can only remain human while she is in love with a man, but is doomed to die if he is unfaithful to her. Undine is a German film that was released in 2020 by the director Christian Petzold, according to the UC Film Series website.
This film will be shown on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. in the MacFarlane Auditorium to both students and the community. Admission is free.
“Enjoy the superhero movies and the car crash movies as much as you want,” Miller said. “But if you are willing to challenge yourself a little bit, these films are chosen in hopes of inspiring students to see a bigger world – plus it’s fun.”