Six years ago today Indiana University Cinema launched its first season with an unforgettable screening of Lawrence of Arabia—officially transforming the University Theatre from its origins as a live performance space to an amazing place for film. I was finally seeing the film as it was meant to be experienced—beautifully projected on the big screen.
The first time I saw it was on the night before I left home to begin my freshman year at IU, where I went on to get my degree in Theatre and Drama—stage managing, designing and running crew on shows in the University Theatre, a place I’ve always felt deeply at home. An avid film lover since I was a little girl, I continually sought out opportunities to absorb a wide range of films. In the days before VHS, DVD, and streaming, I’d take opportunities to see films wherever and however I could. That night as I worked to maneuver my belongings into my small trunk, David Lean’s sweeping epic unfolded in black and white on the screen of a tiny portable TV. I was aware that I was only experiencing a small fraction of the film’s true nature, but the film became fused into my consciousness as part of my own epic journey of discovery of myself as an artist and as a dreamer of new worlds, so it was particularly exhilarating for me that Lawrence of Arabia ushered in this new era for the University Theatre and for cinema on campus. It was a sign that IU Cinema would be a tremendously welcoming and invigorating place for me to experience film and explore meaning. Since the beginning I’ve devoted myself to helping IU Cinema thrive, first as a social media volunteer and later as a member of the Cinema staff. I’m invigorated by the opportunity to inspire love for film and encourage exploration of what cinema has to offer through social media and as editor of A Place For Film.
When the A Place For Film blogging team decided to share some memories in honor of the Cinema’s 6th birthday, we realized that we were never going to be able to even scratch the surface of all the rich memories we’ve each formed over these first few years. So we’re just giving you a taste of some of what we’ve truly relished. We want to hear your memories as well. We hope you’ll reflect back over your times at IU Cinema and share what’s moved you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #IUCinemaMemories.
Here are just a few more memories I have to mention:
- IU Cinema jumping on board with a 15 day festival in support of my #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party initiative.
- Sharing my experimental short film Attention to Detail Guides the Dreamer in the Iris Film Festival. (Don’t miss this year’s Iris Film Festival on January 28.)
- Engaging with so many amazing filmmakers. If I start naming names, I won’t be able to stop. I’ll just mention how delicious it was for me to see IU alum Kevin Kline appreciate his return to University Theatre and express satisfaction at how beautifully it has morphed into a place where cinema can be vividly experienced and shared.
And now I invite you to explore more memories shared by our core team of volunteer bloggers, who dedicate themselves to helping fuel love of film! ~ Barbara Ann O’Leary
It’s honestly kind of foolish to pick one great memory from my six years of attending the cinema. It’s where I got (and am still getting) most of my film education. I could talk about seeing my first film there (Don’t Look Now), seeing my all-time favorite films on the big screen (Brazil and Spider-Man 2), or what it was like getting to shake the hands of so many legendary directors (Roger Corman has a healthy grip!). For me, though, it would have to be the time when, with zero preparation, I went straight from a day of work to sitting down for the 24-hour Philip Seymour Hoffman retrospective/marathon. I was pretty broken up about his death, so when I heard the Cinema was putting on a retrospective, all I said to myself was “I am going to all of it.” Turned out it was one of the most cathartic and surreal experiences of my life. I feel like I went through all the stages of grief in one day for a person I didn’t even know. It came to a head at around 5 or 6 in the morning when Synecdoche, New York, a movie I had never seen before, started playing and I legitimately did not know how much of the movie I imagined and how much was real — it’s a Charlie Kaufman movie after all — but even in that blood sugar-drained, sleep-deprived state (turns out not eating or taking any stimulants is a bad way to do a movie marathon), it worked for me. At his final scene in the movie — a movie about death — I broke down sobbing because it really hit me that he was gone. The IU Cinema came through with some celluloid therapy for the heavy-hearted. I wouldn’t trade that memory for the world. ~ David Carter
One of my favorite memories of the IU Cinema is seeing Life of Pi in 3D. It was a special screening for one of Barbara Klinger’s classes. Ushering for it was a bit easier than normal, since it was a small class. I had seen Life of Pi on TV, but this experience was so much better. The 3D really amplified the experience for me. It allowed me to become immersed in the beautiful world that Ang Lee and his collaborators created. The THX sound system allowed me to hear every animal snarl and swish of the ocean. I’ve seen many movies at the IU Cinema, but for sheer magic, it’s hard to beat Life of Pi. ~ Jesse Pasternack
When I was a kid my family owned what ultimately became a well-watched VHS copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. For some reason I remember we didn’t own the other two films from the original trilogy; and so, when I quote the franchise it’s likely I’m repeating a line or phrase from that film (arguably, not the best of the three to choose from—“We named the dog Indiana” probably wins the cake there). However, no matter how many times I watched the second film, Raiders of the Lost Ark was, and still is, my favorite of the series. Having parents who grew up with the Indiana Jones franchise, my own love of it was almost inevitable—I’m sure many people my age can relate.
I remember my father dressing up as Indiana Jones multiple times throughout my childhood—my mother even gifted him with the appropriate hat one year. For me these memories will always be inseparable from the films themselves; so it worked out perfectly that when, last semester, the IU Cinema showed Raiders my dad was in town visiting me. I decided to treat him with a visit to the Cinema, and we ended up talking about how the last time he had seen the film on the big screen was when it was originally released 35 years before. Sharing this experience with him, during the Cinema’s own Raiders-versary!, has become one of my favorite IU Cinema memories. ~ Katherine Johnson
It’s hard to choose my favorite IU Cinema memories because the Cinema has given me many cinephile moments. Over the past five years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredible filmmakers, watch incredible films, and even project some excellent films.
My top 5 highlights would be:
Watching a restored Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) with a live orchestral score. I had only ever seen it on DVD before (in a variety of dubious restorations, including one with an 80s soundtrack!), and seeing Metropolis on the big screen with top-notch Jacobs School of Music musicians is one of the most satisfying cinematic experiences I’ve had. My favorite moment in the film is when Maria-bot dances for the lecherous men, complete with limbs and shoulders and a cacophony of eyes!
- Projecting Crispin Glover’s What is It? (2005). Glover had a carefully planned presentation, which included a performance of his fiction with a slideshow preceding the film. The show was complicated, but cool as hell. Afterwards, Glover gave me a copy of his book, Oak Mot, and signed a poster thanking me for the fine projection. One of the best compliments of my professional career.
- Projecting Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman,1975), a film I’ve written about and can never get over. Jeanne is everything. I would watch her fold meatloaf hundreds of times over.
- Co-curating and projecting the films of the Jan Švankmajer retrospective. Like Metropolis, I had only ever seen Švankmajer’s films on DVD, though he was the subject of my dissertation. The opportunity to watch his films in one of the best theaters in the country (and even project a few!) was one of the best gifts the IU Cinema gave me.
- Finally, meeting WERNER HERZOG. Did I mention I met WERNER HERZOG?! Oh my god I met Werner Herzog! He carried a little book of poetry with him and was incredibly generous with students during a master class. His films were perfect on the IU Cinema screen, and I couldn’t get enough of hearing him talk about his art.
There are so many other moments: John Sayles, Ava DuVernay, Charles Burnett, Nicolas Winding Refn, Bobcat Goldthwait, Kelly Reichardt, Guy Maddin, Claire Denis and the always challenging and inspiring Underground Film Series! Narrowing the memories down was more difficult than coming up with a list. The IU Cinema is such a gift to our community. Thanks to everyone who supports it. ~ Laura Ivins
Don’t forget to share your #IUCinemaMemories online!