The Husky Film Festival combines fascinating ideas with popcorn entertainment

(Picture via writer)

(Picture via writer)

The Husky Film Festival is a newly created screening series taking place later this spring. Each film in the five-film series will be chosen and introduced by professors from a variety of fields. By combining the intellectual interests of professors with accessible feature filmmaking, the festival hopes to generate a strong meeting ground of engaging ideas.  

The professors involved with the Husky Film Festival study a wide variety of topics that all connect in some way to the art of filmmaking. From philosophy to mathematics, all areas of interest are covered and represent the diverse ways that a film can be appreciated.  

Let’s meet the professors involved with the Husky Film Festival to better understand what makes their film selection so interesting.  

Prof. Olga Gershenson, Judaic Studies & Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts:   

“Children of the Fall” (2016)  

Professor Gershenson will be screening the Israeli horror film, “Children of the Fall.” This selection is a commentary on Israeli society by way of the slasher film, reminiscent of the classics like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th.” Set in 1973, “Children of the Fall” takes place as the Yom Kippur War is beginning and delves into the racial and ethnic inequality in the region’s history. This subject directly relates to Gershenson’s area of study as she is currently writing a book on new Israeli horror films. According to Gershenson, “Children of the Fall” will be sure to interest the student body as it “innovates and expands horizons of both the horror genre and Israeli film while defying our expectations of both.”  

Prof. Kelly Dennis, Art History (UConn)  

Prof. Álvaro Lozano-Robledo, Mathematics (UConn)  

“Hidden Figures” (2016)  

The only doubles presentation in the series, “Hidden Figures” will be introduced from both a social and technical angle. This film documents the African-American women integral to NASA’s efforts in the early days of the Space Race who were cast aside and lost to history as the 1960s progressed. Professor Dennis has a history with the topic as she taught a class on gender and race as it relates to technological history. She found that screening the Hollywood version of this story was helpful because students were “shocked that women of color were key parts of the Space Race.” It is fascinating that a major aspect of such a celebrated part of American history could go completely unmentioned in the history books.  

Professor Lozano-Robledo combines knowledge of NASA’s hiring practices with the mathematical know-how that landed astronauts on the moon. The math professor will hope to explain how NASA was able to accomplish this feat without the use of computers.   

“I want to explain the kinds of things they actually did, at basically the level of differential calculus at UConn, with enough accuracy to keep everyone safe onboard,” Lozano-Robledo said.   

Prof. Gregory Semenza, English (UConn)  

“A Matter of Life and Death” (1946)  

 Our film history choice is provided by English professor Gregory Semenza. This fantasy-love story details Peter David Carter (David Niven), a squadron leader in the British Air Force during WWII who is shot down on the way home from a mission in Germany. His story pits the powers of love against the “laws” of the universe in a dispute over the future of his soul. However fantastical and romantic, the film is best seen through a historical lens, a topic the English professor has extensive experience with. The masterful duo behind the film, Powell and Pressburger, was asked by the British Ministry of Information to address the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Great Britain at the end of WWII. For Semenza, “A Matter of Life and Death” (1946) is, “a beautiful, extraordinary work that straddles the lines between art and propaganda, war-time and peace-time film, and realism and surrealism.”  

Prof. Lewis Gordon, Philosophy (UConn)  

“City of God” (2003)  

“City of God” is a kaleidoscopic, post-modern masterpiece about the titular suburb of Rio de Janeiro. The film revolves around a photographer, Rocket, as he witnesses the evolution of the city’s criminal organizations. While Rocket may be the main character, the structure of the film is anything but standard with interweaving narratives, time jumps, and rapid-fire editing. “City of God” was one of the most successful independent films of the 2000s and Professor Gordon was involved in its creation. The producers of the film were Brown University students at the same time that Professor Gordon was teaching film at the institution. His fascination with “City of God” comes from what it reveals about a society without structure: “In short, the underside of life is, still, life's nakedness and the violence unleashed where politics recede and nihilism reigns.”  

Prof. Stephen Dyson, Political Science (UConn)  

“Sunshine” (2007)  

Professor Stephen Dyson will be introducing “Sunshine,” a tragically overlooked science-fiction film from 2007. The film details the mission of Icarus II, a spaceship carrying crew ordered to deliver a nuclear bomb to the sun, which is fading away and cooling the earth. Science-fiction is often the space to ask the big questions and that is exactly what Dyson hopes to discuss during the series 

 “‘Sunshine’ sits at the intersection of science-fiction and religious speculation. It asks the biggest question of all: just because we can, as a species, do something, does that mean that we should?” Dyson said. This film packages these lofty themes in an accessible format. “Sunshine” will also be followed by screenings of student films from fellow Huskies.  

The Husky Film Festival begins Monday, March 25 and continues weekly through April 22. Times and locations are below.  


Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.craven_jr@uconn.edu.