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Browning Cinema to host virtual discussions, bringing community together through art

| Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As a way to continue its involvement in film for the Notre Dame community and beyond, the Browning Cinema has launched its first series of the “Zoom Back Camera” film event this week.

This ongoing, weekly event is an opportunity for film-lovers to connect through cinema despite the closing of theaters due to COVID-19. Every week, the Browning Cinema will release a schedule of four films available through a variety of streaming services.

Participants are encouraged to watch these films at their own time and leisure, and each film is designated a day of the week for an online discussion board. These free, virtual discussions will take place at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and they will be led by various guest hosts who can speak intelligently on the particular film.

The discussion boards will be hosted on Youtube, and participants are encouraged to leave comments and questions for the guest host and other viewers.

Ricky Herbst, who is the cinema program director at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, has been working diligently to continue the Browning’s mission despite these challenging times.

“University cinemas in particular are important for the bracketing around the film, the opportunity to discuss it and to put it in context in terms of current events,” Herbst said. “So it’s a real bummer that we aren’t able to continue that work as we love it. But, we are able to offer a semblance of it through this online film forum.”

Herbst said he’s asking his colleagues and general film-lovers what five films they love to watch to choose what to feature.

“Maybe they were important for deciding they wanted to be a film professor or study film, or changed their life, or are comfort food films that they can gush about,” Herbst said.

Herbst also said he plans on showcasing works from female directors and people of color in the industry in the series to do what he can to fight for diversity in the film industry.

This week’s series will feature the coming-of-age film “Lady Bird,” directed by Greta Gerwig.

Herbst said this film has a special tie to the University community, as the Notre Dame Folk Choir is showcased through song within the film. A recording of the choir’s “Rosa Mystica” can be heard in the final scene of the movie.

“When we showed it on campus [in 2018], people loved it, and it’s a healthy mix of laughing and crying,” Herbst said. “Getting emotions out is a really good thing right now.”

Staci Stickovich, who serves as the marketing program manager at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, said in an email that the service aims to bring the Notre Dame community together.

“The arts have always provided a way to bring people together in shared experiences,” Stickovich said. “We hope that Zoom Back Camera will provide people with a way to stay connected. We may be physically isolated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come together; that’s what this is about, togetherness.”

Both Herbst and Stickovich emphasized that the series is open to all who would like to participate.

“Watch a great film and join the discussion,” Stickovich said. “You don’t have to be a cinephile to take part –– all are invited and all are welcome.”

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