The smell of popcorn filled the room as people filtered inside, waiting in anticipation of enjoying a two-hour film.
A showing of David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” had students and instructors gather in the Great Hall for the Auteur Film Festival on Wednesday for a night of enjoyment and discussion.
After the film, the panel, which consisted of philosophy instructor Melanie Mcquitty, assistant English professor Dustin Lehren, and Cinema instructor Ken Windrum, shared its thoughts on the 1986 mystery/thriller with moderator Brad Saenz, an English instructor.
When coordinating the event, Saenz and Mcquitty wanted to pick a movie made by David Lynch.
“He is one of the most important directors because he does his own thing in a way that no one else can,” Mcquitty said. “He is not just doing something different, he’s doing it in an informed way that is contextualized in the history of cinema.”
According to Saenz, “Blue Velvet” was the film that put Lynch on the map, and is a good representation of the director’s work.
One of the main themes of the film is how things are never what they seem, which is a theme that runs throughout Lynch’s movies, he said.
Mcquitty explained that every semester they choose a different topic for the movies they show.
This semester they chose auteur theory.
The panelists all defined it as the theory of filmmaking in which the director is seen as the main creative force in a film.
Mcquitty said that this semester they wanted to highlight filmmakers who they think are interesting and important, and have such an influence on their films, that they are considered authors.
Allowing a campus to be active and giving students more social opportunities outside of the classroom are as essential to creating a community on campus, Saenz said.
“Students who are more involved on campus do better in class and are more interactive with their campus,” Saenz said. “Any sort of social event is good to get people here talking to each other and talking to their teachers.”
He said that events like this do not only benefit students, but the teachers as well. They get to talk to their students and become part of campus life.
Mcquitty said she hopes that students can learn from the movies and the directors they highlight just as she has learned a lot from Lynch films.
“I’ve learned that you don’t have to follow the plotline that everyone says you have to follow. A lot of the things we consider essential in films are just conventions,” Mcquitty said. “I’ve learned that you can approach a film in a way that a lot of people approach paintings and pure visual arts, and it can still be engaging and enjoyable.”
The panel gives students context for the film, and they can see the perspective of this auteur idea from instructors from different departments.
This was Lehren’s first time participating in an event like this on campus, and he was impressed by the interest he saw the students express.
It was enjoyable for him to obtain a more youthful perspective about an older film once they opened the discussion with the audience.
“It was neat to be a part of an academic discourse with colleagues and students,” Lehren said.
He encourages students and the community to attend the next film showing.
“Have an open mind and see what happens,” Lehren said. “Maybe you will like something you didn’t know you would.”
The Auteur Film Festival will be presenting “Lolita” on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Great Hall.