Student Films Premier in Campus Festival (Popcorn Included)

Image from first-year student Mariette Aborn’s film “Degrees, Diamonds, and Diapers” about 1960s housewives (featuring Aborn’s grandmother)

Six student films, created as end-of-semester projects, had their public debut in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library on December 16.

The film festival was hosted by Juli Haugen, Educational Technology Consultant in Bowdoin’s IT office, who worked with the students on the films. “I’ve always wanted to do an end-of-semester film festival, and this year it finally happened,” Haugen said. Attendees enjoyed a deluxe movie-going experience, thanks to a hot chocolate bar and 9 flavors of popcorn from Coastal Maine Popcorn Company.

The films included political commercials created for Professor of Government Christian Potholm’s course on Maine politics, along with documentaries produced for  “Memories and Memoirs,” a course taught by Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Connie Chiang, who took Haugen’s faculty workshop on digital storytelling last summer.

The Maine political commercials were “designed to do specific things for the groups the students looked at,” Potholm said. One team of students was tasked with creating a campaign video for Paul LePage, while another team promoted Eliot Cutler. A third commercial (featuring the voice of Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols) spoke against the legalization of marijuana.

Each student in Chiang’s class chose a family member and used digital storytelling to place that person’s life in its larger historical context. Three of the resulting films were selected for the festival, each centering on a student’s grandmother but exploring a unique theme: 1960s housewives, the effects of World War II, and the experience of Mexican immigrants.

As Chiang noted, the medium of film – besides being more lively than your average end–of–semester presentation – added new depth to the students’ treatment of their topics. “It’s actually really challenging to boil down a message and convey it in a video,” Chiang said.

The event also included a brief discussion of films created by Bowdoin students who spent three hours per week with middle schoolers as part of Visiting Assistant Professor of Education Katie Byrnes’ course “Educating All Students.” Byrnes described her students’ films – withheld from screening for reasons of privacy – as “powerful and moving.”

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