Students react to possible Cinefest changes

Before the end of March, Spotlight representatives will make a decision on the future operational schedule of Georgia State’s student-run movie theater, Cinefest.

Since January, rumors have been circulating that the theater will see its days of operation reduced from seven days to three days per week.

Members of Cinefest management have tried all spring semester to keep these changes from happening; if these changes are implemented, final changes will go into effect starting in May.

Communications major Deranta Santa voiced his discontent with the imminent changes to Cinefest’s operational schedule.

“It’s really disconcerting to hear about this,” Santana said. “The students at Georgia State really should utilize Cinefest because they pay to keep the theater running through student fees anyway.”

Since the theater will only be in operation three days out of the week, Spotlight and University Center representatives have been thinking of ways to use the theater during the four other days of the week.

According to Phillip Smith, a Spotlight adviser, one possibility is using the empty rooms for events such as open-mic and poetry nights.

“I think that using the theater for open-mic nights and poetry nights is somewhat pointless,” Santana said. “I know that last year Spotlight put on events like that in the Student Center Ballroom so I don’t see why they would want to use Cinefest for that purpose.”

According to film major Marvin Johnson, one of the reasons Cinefest is being pushed to reduce its hours of operation is because the theater doesn’t advertise enough.

When asked about the changes facing Cinefest in the coming weeks, many students were not aware of the theater’s existence.

“This theater is one of the better kept secrets on our University’s campus,” Johnson said. “The fact that cash-strapped college students are not taking advantage of free movies is mind-boggling.”

Cinefest manager Zach Hill said that he is aware of the limited visibility of Cinefest and the organization has plans to increase its visibility through advertising.

“We’ve been talking about getting these huge seven-foot stands similar to the ones Spotlight uses to advertise and placing them at different locations around campus,” Hill said.

Hill and other Cinefest staff members said they were blindsided by Spotlight and University Center representatives when they were informed of these potential changes in early January.

According to Hill, it seems like there’s been a break in the communication flow between Spotlight and CInefest. Throughout his four years of working with Cinefest, he said that this is the first time he’s been told of issues with theater attendance.

Hill also expressed concern for the long-term sustainability of Cinefest after these changes are made.

“A couple years ago we were open during every day of the summer and now there are talks of closing Cinefest down during the summer completely,” Hill said. “It just seems like a pattern has developed of Cinefest getting cut.”

Hill also noted that the goals of Spotlight and Cinefest are far different from one another.

“While Spotlight’s goal is to create social events and entertainment for the students at Georgia State, Cinefest is more focused on education,” Hill said. “With these changes looming, I believe that they’re going to have us do more events and things outside of the theater similar to the annual Screen on the Green event.”

Screen on the Green is an annual event put on by Cinefest staff where students can come to the Commons courtyard and watch a film out on the grass.

Cinefest’s staff is comprised of seven students, all of whom are pursuing an education in film. The theater is known for screening documentaries, international films and art films. Also, during the Student Film Festival, Cinefest screens films made by Georgia State students in the theaters.