The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

International films build campus culture

By Tessa Cheek

There’s just one copy of director Kaizo Hayashi’s detective film The Code in the United States and it belongs to Teri Geller, English.
This Friday in the Harris cinema, Geller will introduce the Japanese film in its North American premiere.
“The Code is a movie length version of one [the] Detective Office 5 ‘webisodes,’” Geller said. The online shorts chronicle the adventures of a variety of detectives, an avant-garde online entertainment project that has gone international in this full-length independent film.
Though Hayashi’s movies are set in the present and future, the films are strongly influenced by more classic film movements such as French New Wave and American Film Noir.
However, Hayashi’s movies aren’t about artistic statement alone. “What’s cool about Hayashi is that he actually was a detective for a while,” Geller said, “so he has real experience.”
The film also promises to be thoroughly entertaining. “Other films I’ve seen by this director are a mix of noir and madcap comedy,” Courtney Sheehan, an independent “visual culture” major, said. “[Hayashi has] a really distinctive style— his films are basically hilarious.”
The Cultural Films Committee (CFC), of which Sheehan and Geller are members, is responsible for screening The Code. The committee has recently shifted from screening once a week to showing films in a more of an event capacity. The CFC focuses equally on the films’ entertainment and intellectual value.
“[The CFC aims] to bring more of a conversation about film and cinema in general to the campus,” Geller said. “We want to provide the academic context for understanding cinema as a… cultural language that is international.”
As a part of this project, the committee will be showing Cinema Paradiso, an Italian film about inter-generational relationships, over family weekend. As a contrast, and somewhat in conjunction with SGA film’s Blade Runner, a later screening will show the visually stunning, post-apocalyptic film Brazil.
In early October the CFC plans to host an event featuring a series of short films accompanied by student musical performances, from Jazz to Freesound. The semester will conclude with “Grinnell Cinefest” on Dec. 4-6. The annual festival’s first theme will be international women’s cinema, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Gender and Women Studies at Grinnell.
This move to create a more active life for international and artistic films at Grinnell reflects an overall trend on campus.
“There have been an increasing number of students interested in creating a film culture here and who have been kind of frustrated with the lack of choices in terms of film viewings,” Sheehan said. The CFC hopes to provide an outlet for this interest, and even to establish Grinnell as a regional film center.
“One of the things Grinnell’s lacking is that you don’t live near a major city where you can go to international film fests and that’s such a huge part of my love of film,” Geller said. “One of the things I do is go to film fests every year and bring …. films back to campus … to help educate and expose students to other cultural films.”
Beginning with the comedic and visual stylings of The Code and concluding with a challenging series of international womens’ cinema, complete with student-sponsored discussions, the CFC promises to develop, through film, another layer of quirky aesthetics and intellectual content in Grinnell’s artistic community.
The aim of these films is not only to entertain but also to challenge. “Once you engage with another culture’s standards and beloved artists, you start to question your own,” Sheehan said.

The elaborate poster for The Code is another feature of the Cultural Films Committee’s commitment to present their films as interactive artistic events.
The elaborate poster for The Code is another feature of the Cultural Films Committee’s commitment to present their films as interactive artistic events.
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *