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. For our latest installment, we have responses from our delightful administrative operations manager, Elizabeth Roell.
What is your job at IU Cinema?
I am the Administrative Operations Manager at the Cinema. In this role, I serve as the Cinema’s building and office manager. I am also the point of contact for purchasing, HR, facilities, and staff and director support.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
The part I have enjoyed most so far is booking travel for IU Cinema staff and guests. I’ve always loved the feeling of planning a trip and bringing all those aspects together. The only thing that would make it more fun is if I was the one taking the trips.
Of the IU Cinema events you’ve been a part of, do you have a favorite?
Ugh, it’s so hard to pick a favorite because I’ve had so many amazing experiences at the Cinema. I mean, of course I would say my Staff Selects screening of Under the Skin, back when I was a part-time employee, was one of the best events. All my friends came out to support, and people were coming up to me at The Root Cellar after the screening saying how much they loved the film. That was pretty awesome. Plus, the film looked and sounded SO GOOD.
I’ve also met (in person and virtually) so many fascinating and wonderful guests through the Cinema: George Takei, Alexandre O. Philippe, Haifaa al-Mansour, Bootsy Collins, Victoria Price, Karyn Kusama, and many others that could easily be a favorite, but it would be too difficult to choose.
Do you have a film experience that changed your life or direction?
I’ve been watching films for as long as I can remember, it would be difficult to pick just one. I would honestly say that the biggest experience that changed my life was not a specific film, per say, but an experience nonetheless. While in college at IU, I took a class called Sound in Cinema, which was held twice a week inside the IU Cinema, with a weekly film screening there as well. I had never been to the Cinema before this, but even in a small class, the immersive atmosphere was electrifying. This 100% directly led to me becoming a volunteer usher, which then led to a part-time job. And now, of course, in my full-time position, they still can’t get rid of me. I’ve been hooked ever since.
In terms of films and/or filmmakers, what or who inspires you?
I am inspired by films that, when they’re over, you can’t stop thinking about for one reason or another, whether it’s that I relate to them so much or that they opened my eyes to something new. When a filmmaker creates something that is just so infectious… It’s hard to put into words that type of feeling, but you know when you feel it, and it sticks with you. That magic gives me an energizing sense of inspiration and continually renews my love for film.
What do you hope audiences leave with after an IU Cinema event?
I hope that audiences leave having felt something. Maybe it’s joy or wonder or despair or anger. Maybe they loved the film, maybe they hated it, but hopefully it makes them feel.
What is the most powerful aspect of film as an art form?
The ability to transport the viewer into a different place, life, experience, etc. Film is able to expand our understanding of societies, cultures, and the world. Film can connect us with each other in small, yet meaningful ways.
What would be your dream IU Cinema event or series?
I’ve always said one of my dream filmmaker events would be a Kirsten Dunst/Sofia Coppola collab series. I love both of their films, and I believe Marie Antoinette especially is an underrated modern classic. My pie-in-the-sky wish would be to have them here together for a conversation.
What is the importance of having a place like the IU Cinema?
Having a place like IU Cinema is so important, or at least has been so important in my life, in that it brings the world to you. I love Bloomington, but as someone who has lived in Indiana their whole life, the Cinema was my first experience of what else is out there. And even though I’m still here, I feel like the access to film that we have through the Cinema can change us, challenge us, make us more empathetic, and broaden our understanding of reality. Hell, it can broaden our understanding of fantasy and imagination as well. Theaters like IU Cinema can invigorate, inspire, and show us what else is or could be out there.
Which of our IU Cinema exclusive filmmaker interviews is your favorite or is one that you’d recommend?
I would recommend Penelope Spheeris’s interview. I love the way she speaks so passionately about film and what inspires her. She is so compelling as a filmmaker and as a person, I think her interview is just so fun to watch.