The inaugural Roanoke College International Film Festival will kick off next month, aiming to bring together the campus and Roanoke communities through culture and film.
The festival, which begins the week of Feb. 19, will screen seven films representing the seven foreign languages offered at the College. Screenings will take place on-campus and at the Grandin Theatre and the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
The festival is the initiative of French professor Elizabeth Groff, who has overseen international film festivals in the past at other colleges and universities. Groff was first inspired while working at the University of Miami. There, each language department would hold their own festival, and Groff decided that the best way to encourage involvement and generate interest across the entire modern language department is to merge all efforts into one large film festival.
The selections of the Spanish film, La Camioneta; French film, Hope; and Italian film, Fuocoamare were made thanks to their successes in previous festivals that Groff participated in. Groff also attended the opening of Hope in Paris and met the director and cast. The remaining films in this year’s festival were selected on a suggestion basis from other Roanoke College professors. Each movie will also be accompanied by English subtitles.
“The collective experience is important,” said Groff. “There’s such a different experience of laughing and crying together in front of the big screen. This event is so important in regards to opening people’s minds about the topic of immigration, and film is the perfect medium for this because it is so powerful.”
In conjunction with the screening of the films, there will be post-viewing panels led by Roanoke College professors who will discuss language and culture, give the audience an enriched understanding of the historical context of the films, and point out important elements that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Following the panel discussions will be catered receptions to allow for further conversations on the films.
The theme of the festival is immigration, a nod to the expansive refugee community in the Roanoke area. Groff’s goal of the festival is to help the College community become more connected and integrated with the surrounding Salem and Roanoke communities. Because of this, the event is free and open to the public. You can find more information on the festival’s website.