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Wednesday June 6, 2001

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Media arts dept. unveils new summer film series

By Maggie Burnett

Arizona Daily Wildcat

"The Genres of Hollywood" recreates afternoons at the movies with genre-themed screenings

Though it seems the arrival of the DVD will soon make film and video obsolete media, most will agree there really is no substitute for an afternoon at the movies.

Bearing this thought in mind, Michael Mulcahy and Barbara Selznick - both professors in the University of Arizona department of media arts - decided to create "The Genres of Hollywood," a month-long film series paying tribute to the movie theater.

"Dr. Selznick and I were sitting thinking 'Why would people want to come out to watch something that theoretically they could rent themselves?'" Mulcahy said. "We wanted to try to recreate what a Sunday afternoon at the movies would be."

In order to more effectively convey this feeling, the two professors chose four genres of film - horror, the musical, film noir and western - as well as an accompanying cartoon to fit that genre each week.

Sunday's screening of "An American in Paris" and the Bugs Bunny Cartoon "French Rarebit," for example, were pulled from the movie/musical genre.

"The idea behind what we're doing is to look at films that best exemplify a particular genre and present a film that plays off the main convention of that genre," Mulcahy said. "'An American in Paris' is a wonderful example of a film musical with a great Gershwin score."

Still, Mulcahy admitted choosing just one film for each genre was not an easy task.

"It was hard. One of the things we were not trying to do was say the films we picked stand in for the genre as a whole," he said. "We're not trying to pick the best. When we think about a genre and what's interesting about it, it allows an audience to bring a set of expectations to the theater. Part of enjoying Hollywood are those built-in expectations."

Although the summer series is the first the media arts department has sponsored, Mulcahy said the event has run smoothly so far.

"This is the first time (for the Summer Cinema Series)," Mulcahy said. "The media arts department has sponsored a lot of different film screenings but this is the first one for this particular series."

"I think one of the things that does seem right to us is to have these short films prior to the main feature and make a relationship between them," he added. "You can rent these very easily but to see those on film in a movie theater is much harder."

Beginning June 24, the department will sponsor another film series called "Alternate Routes."

"The idea (for this series) was to show some popular films people may have not seen before - experimental and avant-garde film and video," he said. "We see a broad range of film and video that deserves to be seen and talked about, to look at it with new eyes and experiment. This is film and video which hasn't been seen much but should be."

Tickets for "The Genres of Hollywood" are $3 for the general public and $1 for students. Mulcahy added that profits from ticket and concession sales would go toward film and room rental.

"If you screen something in a university auditorium, you rent that auditorium from the university," he explained. "We also received a grant from the university and the College of Fine Arts to help offset ticket sales."

The Summer Cinema Series continues Sunday with screenings of "An American in Paris" and "French Rarebit." On June 17, the series will screen the film "Gilda" and the Daffy Duck cartoon "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery" as part of the film noir genre. Finally, "Destry Rides Again" and the cartoon "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" will be shown June 24 as part of the western genre of film.