Get to know the people behind your favorite university cinema in our new blog series, “Meet Your IU Cinema Staff.” Using the format of our exclusive filmmaker interviews — all of which can be found on our YouTube channel — we’ve crafted a questionnaire for our staff to help introduce them to you, our audience. To kick things off, it only seemed right that we start with our new director, Dr. Alicia Kozma.
What is your job at IU Cinema?
I am the director of the Cinema.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Watching movies! Kidding… sort of. I love finding films for our community that they would not normally have access to, or maybe not even have heard of, and bringing them to the Cinema. That’s the job of any good art house theater — curating cinematic experiences you wouldn’t normally have and exposing new art to your community. I also really love working with our partners to bring the IU Cinema experience to far and wide, and to all different types of audiences. Oh, and working with our staff, of course! They are all so passionate about what they do and work tirelessly. I’ll stop there; I am a film professor who has an amazing theater to play with and a team of talented staff, there’s a lot I enjoy about my job!
Of the IU Cinema events you’ve been a part of, do you have a favorite?
Picking favorites is hard for me, so I’ll stick to my favorite during this past fall semester, which was the When We Gather/When We Gather: Together virtual screening and artist conversation. It was part of our Art and a Movie series, and it was a joy to be part of such an invigorating conversation between the artist, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and the audience. There is something about virtual events that make you feel so connected to the larger world — here I was in Bloomington, with the artist in another state, and the audience members spread out who knows where, and yet we were all engaged in this vibrant community conversation. After the event, Ava, one of our amazing house managers, said they felt ready to go out and take on the world, and I could not have summed up the sentiment better.
Do you have a film experience that changed your life or direction?
I watched A Clockwork Orange when I was much too young to be watching A Clockwork Orange and was just blown away at Kubrick’s filmmaking — the technique, the aesthetic, everything. I started looking at film differently after that. Later, when I was applying to college, I wanted to be just like Indiana Jones, so I started my freshman year as an Archaeology student. I took my first Archeology class and quickly realized it was not for me — I didn’t want to be Indiana Jones, I wanted to watch Indiana Jones. I switched into my first film class and that was it for me.
In terms of films and/or filmmakers, what or who inspires you?
People and films that take chances, that aren’t afraid to make the audience uncomfortable, to push them to places they haven’t been to before, or maybe didn’t necessarily want to go to. Films that won’t allow you to forget them, that you can’t stop thinking or talking about, the ones that buzz your brain. Those are the ones for me.
What do you hope audiences leave with after an IU Cinema event?
Three things: 1) I am so glad I came, 2) I can’t wait to tell [insert friend, partner, family member, etc.] about this, and 3) I can’t wait to come back. If people are leaving with these things, we are doing our job.
What is the most powerful aspect of film as an art form?
The ability to stimulate change, be it individual, collective, political, emotional, intellectual, ideological. I’ve never thought it was good enough to rest on the platitude that “film moves us.” Lots of art moves people. That’s great, but so what? What does it move, where is the change? I’ve seen people walk out of film emotionally different or make behavioral or ideological changes. Not all films can do this, but the right films can; they can move mountains.
What would be your dream IU Cinema event or series?
Right now, I am really into this idea I’ve been rolling around in my brain called the Festival of Festivals. There are so many incredible film festivals all over the world, and they are all so different. But most people can’t go to many of them, let alone one. So, I think choosing several film fests from around the world, taking one or two films emblematic of that festival’s identity, and showing them at our own Festival of Festivals would be amazing.
What is the importance of having a place like the IU Cinema?
I can’t overstate this enough: IU Cinema is a unicorn. Places like this simply don’t exist on college and university campuses anymore, and if they do, they are only utilized by a select group of patrons. To have a space where community visitors, students, faculty, staff, my mom — literally anyone — can come together and engage in collective cinematic enlightenment and education, it’s simply too good to be true. But it is, it’s all true! Honestly, it makes me somewhat mad that I am just getting to access it now, but better late than never.
Which of our IU Cinema exclusive filmmaker interviews is your favorite or is one that you’d recommend?
There’s three. First Werner Herzog. No one is as brutally honest about cinema — or anything else that has to do with being human — as Herzog. Put it on a loop; it’s only a few minutes and it’s endlessly rewatchable. The other two are John Waters and Penelope Spheeris. You know how in the old Looney Tunes cartoons, when a character had to make a decision, a little angel popped up on one shoulder and a devil popped up on the other? Waters and Spheeris are who pops up on my shoulders (I can’t honestly say which one is the angel or the devil), so I must include those two.