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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The big picture

Michael Venner, a senior psychology major, heard about HIV when he watched the film “Philadelphia.” The film introduced him to the epidemic and many years later, he is using the same media to spread awareness for it.
“I saw the movie got interested about (AIDS),” Venner said. “My dad worked in the health industry and he was worked with people with AIDs.”Venner said although he feels like he knows an average amount about the disease, that he can always afford to learn more.
On Wednesday, the MSC Film Society will present a special showing of “A Closer Walk” as part of the 11th annual Texas Film Festival. The documentary includes testimonies from patients, doctors and nurses from across the world. It also includes interviews with the Dalai Lama, Bono and Kofi Annan.
“It was very emotional,” Venner said. “It was a really good film. It’s an important film for people to see. I’m definitely going to watch it again. No matter how good or bad the movie is, it’s an important movie to see.” When the movie is shown on Wednesday, audiences will also be able to listen to Josh Lozman, a representative from the Global Health Organization, who will lead a presentation on the disease and its effects.
Venner said the screening is is sure to affect each student in a different way.
“Today we got an e-mail from someone who went to the festival’s Website and saw the film’s trailer and started crying because it was so emotional to him,” Venner said. “He said to tell audiences to bring Kleenexes.”
“A Closer Walk” is just one of the many films being shown this year at the Texas Film Festival.
With Monday’s unveiling of the 11th annual Texas Film Festival, a year’s worth of work and preparation from the MSC Film Society has been brought to close. From planning to execution, the Film Society has worked to bring a weeklong program of films and workshops to the Bryan-College Station area.
Venner, MSC Film Society chair, said the society’s primary goal in putting together the film festival is to import of films to the local area”Our goal is really to provide something for the Bryan-College Station area,” Venner said. “A lot of the movies being shown may be released in New York and Los Angeles, but they may not get a release in the Bryan-College Station area.”
This year’s lineup is includes 11 features (including four films scheduled for wide release) and 13 short films, and is something in which Venner said he takes great pride.
“We have everything from special advanced screenings to eight other features with the director for nearly all of them in attendance,” Venner said. “Pretty much the earmark for all of them is that you get to see a really good movie and then talk to director afterwards.”
The Texas Film Festival began in 1993 and has grown to become the largest student-run independent film festival in the nation.
“Every year we’ve been programming it, we begin work on the next one as soon as the year’s festival is over. We’ve been working hard on the 11th ever since the end of the 10th festival,” Venner said.
Hallie Gardiner, a senior political science major, has been a member of the Film Society since her sophomore year and has been working with the festival for three years. As the director of the Texas Film Festival, Gardenier carries a lot of responsibility.
“I’m in charge of just about everything (in regards to the film festival),” Gardiner said.
With a squad of assistant festival directors and the entire film society behind her, Gardiner will see the fruit of the Film Society’s labor harvested as the festival begins this week.
“We have better movies then we’ve ever had in the history of the festival,” Gardiner said. “A number of the movies we are showing have already been shown in other festivals – one of the directors is going to Cannes. We (also) have advanced screenings. We have bigger profile movies.”
Gardiner said some of the high-profile movies of the festival will include ‘”Hidalgo,” “Broken Lizard’s Club Dredd” and “The Girl Next Door.” She said all advanced screenings will be free. Gardiner said the film society hopes to have a better strategy of getting the word out on the festival.
“Last year, we only put our Web site up a day before the festival,” Gardiner said.
Venner said one of the struggles that the student-led project has faced in previous years is a lack of proper exposure, which prompted this year’s strong advertising blitz.
“From years past we’ve talked to people that have said, ‘If I’d known about it I would have come,'” Venner said. “We’re marketing everywhere we can. At the Memorial Student Center, we have a banner and we have sandwich boards. Last weekend and this coming weekend when you go to Cinemark you get an extra ticket that’s a film festival coupon for $5 off an all-festival pass.”
Even though he realizes someone of his position raving about the festival’s lineup is bound to sound biased, Venner said he is still excited about this year’s festival.
“I’m a fifth-year senior and I have to say that this festival is the best in years past,” Venner said. “Every year we screen films before we choose which ones to show and I’ll occasionally want to see the film again if I get a chance, but this year I’m marking on the calendar the ones I can’t wait to see. I (already) have questions for the directors.”
Kevin Jordan, a junior journalism major, purchased a festival pass as soon as they were open for public sale.
“Every year I’ve been coming here (Texas A&M), I’ve gone to the festival in varying degrees,” Jordan said. “I’ve bought an all-festival pass every year.”
Having enjoyed his visits to the festival in the past, Jordan looks forward to this year’s festival. Jordan said one of the attractions of the festival is being able to see movies before they are in theaters.
“It’s cool to see the advanced screenings so I can talk about them with friends before they are released,” Jordan said.
Venner said College Station’s small size is not a setback for the film festival.
“No one would think that in College Station, Texas, there would be a film festival,” Venner said. “If you think about it, Telluride and Sundance (film festivals) are all in small cities. Why shouldn’t we have the best film festival at the Texas A&M campus?”
Tickets can be purchased at the MSC Box Office. For more information and a complete schedule of the festival’s events, go to msc.tamu.edu.

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