Cinefest undergoing administrative and operational changes

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Photo by Carolina Pecanha | The Signal

Marvin Evangelista stood under the red neon Interest sign, waiting patiently for the photographer to finish the photo shoot. Evangelista, who began working at Cinefest in 2004, quit his job last March after the Spotlight Program Board announced changes in the operations of the theatre.

Evangelista’s connection with Cinefest began in the summer of 1994 when he attended his first movie at the theatre. He worked as a manager and projectionist for different periods over the last ten years

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Photo by Carolina Pecanha | The Signal

“For me, when I press that start button and I pull that lever and the light comes out and the full Dolby stereo comes blasting at you, there’s something empowering, romantic about that,” Evangelista said.

In these 10 years, Evangelista learned to master the 35mm film projector. With the move to digital projection, one of the several changes the Spotlight Program Board announced to Cinefest employees, Evangelista feels there is not a place for him at the theatre in the future.

“I see myself as someone making a contribution to my community,” Evangelista said. “[As a projectionist] I feel as though I’m the final person to put together this movie before I actually show it for the audience.”

Other changes include new operation hours, a film selection committee and more non-movie related events

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Photo by Carolina Pecanha | The Signal

In the future, Cinefest will only operate three days per week, according to Phillip Smith, Assistant Director for Programs and advisor to the Spotlight Program Board.

Next fall the theater will only open Wednesday’s, Thursday’s and Fridays. The first showing will begin at 1 p.m. There will be showings every two hours after that with the last one starting at 7 p.m., according to Smith. Extra showtimes for special events, festivals and rentals are also planned.

“These days and times are based off the last three years of data from attendance numbers in the theater,” Smith said.

For the first time in the Cinefest’s history a board will make decisions about the movie schedule and events outside of the theatre, such as outdoor movies or Campus Movie Fest (CMF).

“The Films Committee Spotlight is encouraging anyone with an interest in film to volunteer on the committee to help select movies and coordinate movie programming that may not be located in Cinefest,” Boyd Beckwith, Director of the Student*University Center, said.

There will also be changes in content, as Cinefest will show more mainstream movies in the future, according to Smith.

“In the past only employees within the Cinefest selected the movies with little or no input from the campus community. Although Cinefest has shown artsy type movies in the past, there has been a call to show more mainstream movies that a majority of the student body will identify with,” Smith said.

While Evangelista understands the decision, he also remembers Cinefest always had a special role on campus. Evangelista said the control he and his team lost to the Films Committee Spotlight is the ultimate reason why he chose not to return to Cinefest in the Fall 2014 semester.

“I always felt that, since we’re under an academic institution, your role as a programmer is basically to expose different ideas so that way that person can learn things that he or she probably would never actually have learned on campus,” Evangelista said.

The committee will look to provide educational as well as entertainment value that will appeal to students of all ages and backgrounds, according to the Spotlight Executive Board.

The selection will include blockbusters, classics and independents, according to the Spotlight Executive Board. There will also be shorts and “sneak peaks”.

The Spotlight Executive Board states there will also be at least two mainstream movies shown every month.

The CMF event, which takes place in the spring semester, will also be under the committee’s supervision, according to Smith.

Senior Warren Turner, a film major, said the committee’s choices increase the popularity of Cinefest, but they also limit the variety of films.

“I like the fact that there are more people coming, more people know about us. The cons, I think, are that these are films that everyone already knows, not necessarily films that expand people’s horizons,” Turner said.

For Turner, Cinefest suffers from a lack of budget affecting what it shows and how it advertises. Turner feels that if Cinefest had a bigger budget things could be different.

“We could easily satisfy both worlds. We could easily bring two, three movies a week, and have big, mainstream movies alongside independent films and cult classics and, to me, that’s my dream, that’s how Cinefest should be operated. The problem with that is just lack of budget,” Turner said.

Senior Karita Petty, a marketing major, is enjoying the new selection of films. She said she has been coming more to the theatre this summer than in the past.

“[We should have] more action films, like this summer, more chick flicks – boys aren’t the only ones watching movies -, more movies like ‘Inception’, ‘Transformers’…” Petty said.

Petty was disappointed to learn about the possible budget cuts for next year, as Evangelista and Turner mentioned.

“I don’t think this should be going on. This is our movie theatre. It’s free for students. It’s one of the great things they market when we come here as freshmen,” Petty said.

A graduate student who prefers to remain anonymous disapproves of all the changes, mainly concerning the showtimes.

“There are a lot of people who the only time they can come is on the weekends. There are a lot of people who the only time they can come is around noon. They just eliminated all these people,” the student said.

Cinefest will hold other events in the days and times movies are not showing, according to Smith.

“We are looking to make the theater open for rentals when not in movie operation. Some of those events could be poetry nights, open mics, and even gaming tournaments. The theater will also continue to host programs like film festivals as they have in the past,” Smith said.

As an international economics and philosophy major, Evangelista will continue his route to a degree. His last night at Cinefest ended with pieces of broken film all over the floor when part of the reel broke at the end of a session of the Night Flight Horror Series.

“This is a great way of how one can end a ten-year, decade-long profession as a projectionist,” Evangelista said.

Despite the way the night and his career as projectionist at Cinefest ended, Evangelista said some things will remain.

“The university can change this place many different times, but one thing they can’t take away from me is the memories and experiences I had working at this place,” Evangelista said.

 

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