Friday, July 18, 2008
SBFF OPENING NIGHT
The Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF) got off to a fine start last evening with a screening of Emotional Arithmetic at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University (SUNY SB).
To get to the screening, the amenities begin with a huge, clean and free parking garage, then you walk through a pleasant courtyard to the Staller Center, past the opulent ($40M 125,000-square-foot cultural center on 4.5 acres) Wang Asian American Center.
Before the screening, there was a slideshow of advertisements for an impressive calendar of significant cultural events during the 2008-2009 season of the Center. The Staller screen is big and clear, and they could not have chosen a better looking film for the opening of the Festival. The Festival director was energetic and cheerful, coping and dealing nicely with the long, long list of people and companies who are essential to thank. The audience was enthusiatic and responsive, and filled a large, pleasant, comfortable theater to capacity. The after-screening party in the Art Center was elegant and an easy place to mingle and talk.
DIRECTOR OF EMOTIONAL ARITHMETIC
AT THE AFTER-PARTY
Emotional Arithmetic was a powerful film to open the Festival, dealing with the scars of the horrors of the holocaust, family and inter-generational relationships, and the conflict between remembering and forgetting -- things too terrible to remember and too important to forget. A superb cast, including Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Plummer, Susan Sarandon, and Max von Sydow, deliver a complex, understated story. (More about this film in another post.) The Canadian location and cinematography are especially beautiful.
DECORATING THE SUNY STONY BROOK CAMPUS
Returning to the parking garage, after the after-party, on a hot night, with a full moon and the path illuminated with colored lights shining on almost tropical style plants, accessorized with a water fountain, the campus reminded me of a posh conference center in Florida. This was my first time on campus since I worked as a post doctoral fellow at SUNY SB many years ago when it was almost barren.
This is the way a modern, growing university should look, with the promise of comfort, dedication, and the cultivation of cultural arts and all knowledge. It was great to see the Staller auditorium full of people; and it would be great to see the intellectual and cultural experience in and around SUNY SB continue to expand.
I have a strong personal interest in the fusion of intellectual activities with entertainment. Given the support of a major university, the large enthusiastic audience, and the outstanding physical environment, this is a terrific place for a film festival, and for a film festival to contribute to that fusion. The growth of the film festival can benefit the university, the film industry and, in a larger sense, intellectual popular culture generally. It’s a great place to showcase important films.