Film Studies Will Be Offered As A Major Starting
In 1999-2000

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Film Studies, a popular minor in the College of Arts and Sciences for the past 16 years, will be available to students as a major beginning next fall.

The 12-course curriculum will include classes in American and European film history, film theory and criticism, photography, and electives ranging from documentary film to French, Italian and Latin American cinema.

Administrators said Film Studies is an appropriate and necessary addition to the disciplines represented in A&S. A major in film reflects the traditional Jesuit interest in the arts, they explained, and asserts the prominence of film making as a highly influential type of artistic expression and social commentary.

"The Film Studies major fits squarely into the humanities curriculum of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the institutional and Jesuit character of Boston College," said Fine Arts Department Chairman Prof. John Michalczyk, who was instrumental in developing the major and will administer it.

"The curriculum has developed as needs arise in society, and in our own student body," he added. "As we plan for the 21st century, BC must develop a curriculum grounded in the tradition of humanistic inquiry which is able to embrace the new as well as the old."

Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts).

"Film has become, in a relatively short time, one of the most important and far-reaching art forms," said A&S Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "In recent years, BC has put an increased emphasis on the value of art in the University community, both inside and outside of the classroom. We feel our talented faculty can provide the serious academic and scholarly treatment film deserves."

Fr. Barth pointed to Michalczyk's own highly acclaimed documentaries, such as "Of Stars and Shamrocks," as exemplifying film's most positive attributes. With their explorations of themes surrounding conflict, social justice, spiritual questions and other related areas, he said, Michalczyk's works show film's capacity "not merely as entertainment but as a means of communicating human values."

Along with Michalczyk, Fine Arts faculty teaching Film Studies will include Prof. Richard Blake, SJ, a former Gasson Professor and film historian; Prof. Pamela Berger, writer and director of three feature-length films; Adj. Asst. Prof. Charles Meyer, who has expertise in photography and sound work; and part-time faculty member Cindy Kleine, an independent film maker.

"Our intent in designing the major was to make sure it is grounded in liberal arts, rather than to focus on film from a technical standpoint," said Michalczyk. "We want to give our students a good foundation in thought and theory of film, so when they do turn to technique, they will have a comprehensive background from which to draw."

Student development beyond the classroom will be an integral part of the major, Michalczyk added. He noted that the Film Studies program, which coalesced from a loosely structured series of courses into a minor in 1982, formed ties with the Boston Film/Video Foundation, WGBH-TV, the Coolidge Corner Cinema, the Museum of Fine Arts and other professional organizations that often offer student internships. Undergraduates also have had frequent opportunities to assist Berger and Michalczyk with their projects, and learn to utilize various resources.

Michalczyk said about 50 students are pursuing a minor in Film Studies, which consists of classes offered through the Fine Arts and Communication departments. He expects 10 to 12 undergraduates to take the major during its first year.

"We hope to spread the word about the major through the World Wide Web and the BC cable TV network, to draw additional interest," he said. "It's been exciting to see how Film Studies has evolved and the support from Fr. Barth and the University has been gratifying. We're looking forward to taking the program to its new level."

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