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Film Studies Program
Film Collective
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We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.




How has cinema imagined the space of the classroom, examined schools as institutions, or attended to the work and pleasure of teaching or learning? How has film thought about its own pedagogical function—its role in the education of the senses, or in the production of citizens, or in the project of informing, uplifting, or disciplining populations? How have specific film schools shaped the work of their more famous students? What kinds of films have been screened in the classroom, as examples or aids to instruction, and for what ideological purposes? How has film been used to document schools in moments of institutional crisis or transformation? 

This is the broad terrain we’ll traverse in this spring’s Collective: Film School.

Please note that the screenings will be at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at B122 Wells Hall.


1/10 Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

Presented by Justus Nieland and Joshua Yumibe

Shot on the grounds of the elite private school once attended by Rushmore’s now-famous director, Wes Anderson’s charming second film is a comic coming-of-age story about Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a quirky prep schooler and audacious playwright. Through Rushmore, Max develops an unlikely friendship with a melancholic millionaire played by Bill Murray (in a role that would help re-launch the actor’s career), and becomes obsessed with a widowed teacher (Olivia Williams). Max’s powerful attachment to the Rushmore Academy and its extracurriculars allows Anderson to explore the nature of loss and loneliness, and the emotional ties that bind us to school as a space for community, recognition, and the performance of selfhood.


1/17 School Daze (Spike Lee, 1988) 

Presented by Ken Harrow

At historically black Mission College, the activist-minded Dap (Larry Fishburne) immerses himself in a world of political rhetoric and social movements -- one day he hopes to rally the students as a united front. At the other end of the spectrum, Julian (Giancarlo Esposito), the head of the biggest fraternity on campus, is more concerned with maintaining a strict social order. In between, Dap's conflicted cousin, Half-Pint (Spike Lee), spends most of his time rushing the fraternity.


1/24 D.E.B.S. (Angela Robinson, 2004)

Presented by Lyn Goeringer

Filmmaker Angela Robinson writes and directs the action comedy D.E.B.S., a feature-length adaptation of her award-winning short film produced by a grant from POWER UP (Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up). This 90-minute spy parody involves a secret crime-fighting unit made up of schoolgirls Amy (Sara Foster), Dominique (Devon Aoki), Janet (Jill Ritchie), and Max (Meagan Good). Their assignment is to take down major villain Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). As it turns out, all she really wants to have an illicit affair with D.E.B.S. leader Amy. 


1/31 Minute Bodies (Stuart Staples, 2016) with Secrets of Nature shorts
Note: this screening has been canceled due to weather. We will update this page with information about a makeup screening later in the semester.

Presented by Katie Greulich

Early naturalist, inventor and filmmaker F. Percy Smith (1880-1945) was one of the first to develop techniques to capture nature's secrets in action. Smith's original footage is paired with a new score by director Staples' band Tindersticks to connect us with the wonder Smith and his audiences must have felt as he peered through his own lenses, seeing these micro-worlds for the first time.


2/7 Real Genius (Martha Coolidge, 1985)

Presented by Julian Chambliss

While classic is perhaps too strong a description, Real Genius (1985) offers a snapshot of1980s filmmaking about cold war anxiety that we should not ignore. While more serious films about the Reagan Era military escalation define cinematic discussions of the era, we should consider how the comedy does not prevent this film from adroitly addressing longstanding fears about the military industrial complex.


2/14 An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009)

Presented by Ellen McCallum

Despite her sheltered upbringing, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a teen with a bright future; she's smart, pretty, and has aspirations of attending Oxford University. When David (Peter Sarsgaard), a charming but much older suitor, motors into her life in a shiny automobile, Jenny gets a taste of adult life that she won't soon forget.


2/21 The Girl with All the Gifts (Colm McCarthy, 2014)

Presented by Jessica and Michael Stokes

This film adaptation of M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts is framed by the scholastic space. In this feature, Melanie (Sennia Nanua) a young, black, girl infected with zombie-state inducing spores attends classes with her favorite teacher (Gemma Arterton) in an isolated military base under the watchful eyes of a rough sergeant (Paddy Considine) and a researcher (Glenn Close) determined to find a cure. When the military base is overrun, Melanie and her keepers must travel through post-apocalyptic England to stay alive, and Melanie begins to learn about her relationship to the world at large.



2/28 Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf, 2000)

Presented by Kaveh Askari

Itinerant Kurdish teachers Said (Said Mohamadi) and Reeboir (Bahman Ghobadi) find many uses for the blackboards they tote, some of which actually pertain to education. Others include doubling as a gurney to carry a sick man, as shields from the warfare along the Iran-Iraq border and as a dowry so Said can wed the widow Halaleh (Behnaz Jafari). When Halaleh's son and a group of his peers tag along with Said and Reeboir, they try to impart their knowledge to the boys amid the surrounding chaos.


3/14 Fame (Alan Parker, 1980)

Presented by Ling Hsu

Young men and women audition for coveted spots at the New York High School of Performing Arts. Those who make the cut discover that it takes a lot of hard work to become a star and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. Grappling with issues such as homosexuality, abortion, attempted suicide and illiteracy, the students must also deal with the mundane pressures of adolescence like homework, heartbreak and rejection.


3/21 Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

Presented by Joshua Lam

Suzy (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one lets her in, and she sees Pat (Eva Axén), another student, fleeing from the school. When Pat reaches her apartment, she is murdered. The next day, Suzy is admitted to her new school, but has a difficult time settling in. She hears noises, and often feels ill. As more people die, Suzy uncovers the terrifying secret history of the place.


3/28 Young Törless (Volker Schlöndorff, 1966)

Presented by Matthew Handelman

At a boarding school in 1900s Austria, cruel bullies Beineberg (Bernd Tischer) and Reiting (Fred Dietz) go to great lengths to embarrass, abuse and dehumanize their pathetic classmate, Basini (Marian Seidowsky). The lowly Basini shows no opposition to his position as the object of constant brutality, and neither does Törless (Mathieu Carrière), a perceptive yet detached friend of the bullies. But as Törless watches idly, the tormentors begin to turn the whole school violently against Basini.


4/4 The First Teacher (Andrei Konchalovsky, 1965)

Presented by Yelena Kalinsky

Diuishen, a recently demobilized Red Army soldier, is determined to spread the international proletarian revolution to the most backwards corners of Soviet Central Asia. Altynai, an orphan girl whose aunt would prefer she stay home and work, joins the village children for lessons and in time falls in love with Diuishen. When Altynai is given away against her will to a rich landowner who rapes her and the school is burned, Diuishen must decide whether he will leave the village or remain and continue the revolutionary struggle.


4/11 Native Land (Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand, 1942) with Workers Film and Photo League shorts

Presented by McKayla Sluga

After breaking with the Film and Photo League and converting Nykino into Frontier Films, Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand directed Native Land, released in 1942. Paul Robeson narrates and sings in this social-political film about the plight of American farmers, sharecroppers, and industrial workers against violent local authorities and the Ku Klux Klan. Fusing newsreel footage with fictional recreations, Native Land straddles documentary and drama to endorse leftist revolutionary ideology and labor union activism as antidotes for racism and corporate/capitalist exploitation of workers.


4/18 Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

Presented by Mikki Kressbach

Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school's pecking scale. Seeing herself as a matchmaker, Cher first coaxes two teachers into dating each other. Emboldened by her success, she decides to give hopelessly klutzy new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover. When Tai becomes more popular than she is, Cher realizes that her disapproving ex-stepbrother (Paul Rudd) was right about how misguided she was—and falls for him

4/25 Student Filmmaker Showcase

Presented by Pete Johnston

A showcase of short student films produced during the 2018/19 school year. Come celebrate student work with us!