Harper College’s Spring Film Series is scheduled to bring screenings of revered movies to campus – from well-known hits (Alien, Tootsie) to films outside of the mainstream (Tampopo, Big Night).
The free events, presented by Harper’s Communication Arts Department, will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays from January 26 through May 4. Open to everyone, the films will screen in Building E, Room E107, preceded by a brief introduction from Harper’s film studies instructors and followed by optional discussions.
“Instructors who teach film history at Harper, like I do, have been wanting to show more films to a larger variety of folks on campus,” said associate professor Brian L. Shelton. “There’s not a history of this, as far as I know, at the college. And there’s not really a place in the northwest suburbs where you can consistently see classics or non-first-run movies. Our goal is to build a following among film fans at Harper.”
Indeed, Shelton and adjunct instructor Erik Hanson, who co-conceived of the film series, are looking to create a larger community around films worthy of discussion. Although the movies will screen in a lecture hall for now, there are plans to build a new film theater in Building E that will better support future screenings for both film courses and events.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through May 4
Where: Harper College, Building E, Room E107, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine
Le Cercle Rouge (1970) – January 26
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) – February 2
Hopscotch (1980) – February 9
Tampopo (1985) – February 16
In the Mood for Love (2000) – February 23
Big Night (1996) – April 13
Cléo From 5 to 7 (1962) – April 20
Alien (1979) – April 27
Tootsie (1982) – May 4
“Events like this are part of what’s wonderful about being on a college campus,” Hanson said. “We’re hoping to draw plenty of film students, but also appeal to art-minded people on campus and in the surrounding community.”
Faced with the daunting task of how to select the first screenings to build a film-focused community, Shelton and Hanson decided to look at themes shared between certain movies. This spring’s entries are centered on three of them: the heist, the food and the women.
French director Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge (1970) will kick off the series (as well as a run of celebrated heist pictures) on January 26. Films by Wong Kar Wai, Ridley Scott and Agnès Varda and featuring actors Walter Matthau, Stanley Tucci and Sigourney Weaver will continue throughout the semester. Sydney Pollock’s Tootsie (starring Dustin Hoffman as an actor who begins a new identity as a woman to land a role) serves as the series’ May finale.
“It will be interesting to see how Tootsie, which was released in 1982, will play in the context of 2023,” Shelton said. “Plus, in this era of streaming, there’s a distinct difference between seeing films with other people versus watching them at home.”
Hanson added that seeing movies with strangers creates “a shared experience where you fully engage with a film and react to the content differently.”
Another series with new themes and films is in the works for the fall of 2023. In the meantime, both Shelton and Hanson are excited to connect with fellow film viewers beyond of the confines of the classroom.
“We hope to build a conversation and a community around this,” Shelton said.
For more information about the films, check out the series Letterboxd list.