To borrow a cinematic phrase, perfect casting led to the successful pairing of Le Moyne College and the Syracuse International Film Festival. Both Le Moyne and the Festival – which this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary – have mutually benefited from the dynamic and growing collaboration between the two organizations.
This year Le Moyne once again hosted the Peace and Social Justice Showcase, which took place on Sunday, Oct. 6 in the W. Carroll Coyne Performing Arts Center. The focal point of the showcase was a screening of the “What the World Needs Now Trilogy: The Films of George Gittoes.” An Australian filmmaker and activist who was in attendance, Gittoes was presented with the Bassel Shehade Award for Social Justice at the showcase, in recognition of his work over the past 20 years.
“It has been a perfect match because the films showcased are specifically about social justice themes that are aligned with Le Moyne’s Jesuit mission,” said Dr. Julie Grossman, a professor in Le Moyne’s English and Communication and Film Studies programs, who has played a key role in the College-Festival partnership. “In the past nine years, we’ve covered a lot of ground, both thematically and geographically. We’ve shown movies that have dealt with political and ideological tensions in the Middle East, fallout from the Cold War in South America, the legacy of Fascism in Spain, gay rights in the United States, and the struggle for reconciliation after conflict in Africa. We’ve welcomed filmmakers from Israel, Nigeria, Australia, and Ireland, giving students and community members the rare chance to meet the artists and ask questions in talkbacks after the screenings. And since this event takes place on campus, it highlights our central role in the Festival.”
In addition to hosting the showcase, Le Moyne played a key role in other events over the Festival’s five-day run. On Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Palace Theater, Patrick Doyle presented his score for the silent film "IT." Music was provided by a 17-piece orchestra made up of musicians from Symphoria and the Society for New Music, and conducted by Le Moyne Director of Music Travis Newton. The College also sponsoring the Friday, Oct. 4 “FilmTalks” event with Joe Lynch and Adam Green in a show and tell program about their work in the horror film genre. This late night program also included the screening of Lynch’s “Wrong Turn 2,” Green’s “Frozen,” and an episode from their TV series “Holliston.”
“The Festival is known for its interest in education through the arts and for its commitment to international filmmaking,” said Grossman, who serves on the Festival’s Board along with Le Moyne Sociology Professor Francis Pestello. “It is international in a way that most American film festivals are not. It has a global purview, bringing art and artists from all over the world to the region. Also central to this Festival is its commitment to screening films that are not formulaic or what some may consider typical "Hollywood" fare. For the most part, the Festival shows films that are artistic and unique and often engage complex social and political issues across time and geographical settings.”
Beyond the College’s support of the Festival as a major sponsor and a key venue, Le Moyne students who attend events benefit greatly. “Our students are exposed to international films that enlarge their perspectives in a host of ways and teach them about global social and political issues and themes,” said Le Moyne Professor Phil Novak, who serves as the director of the College’s Film Program and is also actively involved with the Festival. “This sort of enrichment is important to our mission. These experiences carry students' education beyond the boundaries of the classroom, as they see films that not only entertain but also enlighten.”