RE: 35mm "Beyond the Valley..."

M. Dew (mdew@post.cis.smu.edu)
Thu, 25 May 2000 09:44:49 -0700 (PDT)

> Margaret, please, please don't be angry with me for asking this question,
> but why does a professor insist on titles in film formats for a topic like
> sex and violence? I can sometimes understand this request in a film studies
> class for some old classics; however, I don't get it for regular courses.
> Video would impart the same message and save everybody a lot of time and
> money.

Judy,
Gosh, I wouldn't be angry about a question like that. I'll do the
best I can with an answer for you. I'm not really sure if you are
questioning the financial issue, or the content issue, but I'll
try to address both. The faculty member in question, Prof. Kevin
Heffernan, is actually one the nation's top scholars of independent,
"B," and what we might call, "schlock film." Kevin's documentary
about John Waters, "Divine Trash," won the Filmakers Trophy for Best
Doc. at Sundance in '98 and has just been released on VHS & DVD.
Here's some excerpts from the course description for "Cinema of Sex &
Violence:"

"This course is a historical examination of how shocking or
sensational subject matter has formed an important aesthetic
component of several filmakers' ouevres. How do seemingly gratuitous
displays of sex and violence function as part of the overall
stylistic and thematic systems of a director's work? What historical
circumstance need to align themselve to allow a filmaker to explore
these issues in a particular way... focus on 4 filmakers whose
careers span the collapse of censorship in the film industry and the
fragmentation of the film audience from a general audience to smaller
audiences that coalesce around particular genres and the subculture
to which they cater...the horror film, the adults-only features,
the midnight cult movie, the art cinema, and a range of highly
idiosyncratic hybrids of these." The directors he focuses on are,
Russ Meyers, Mario Bava, John Waters, and D.Cronenberg(one of my
faves). Kevin has been a champion to the young women student
filmakers on campus and the gay and lesbian student filmakers (yep,
even here in Dallas, folks). He attempts to strip away (heh, a pun!)
the prurient appeal of most of the male-dominated sex and violence in
films for his students, and I greatly admire his doing that. With
regard to his wanting a 35mm print for class, he IS very concerned
about the proj. quality of the films he shows in class, so he prefers
remastered, aspect ratioed videotapes or DVDs. As to why he's
looking for a 35mm print of "BTVOTD," I suspect that he has a
teaching budget that allows him ONE 35mm print during this course,
and for whatever pedagogical reasons, he's chosen this one. Hmmm.
Guess I'll ask 'im.

cheers,
-margaret

M.A.Dew
Southern Methodist University
Center for Media & IT
103C Fondren Library West
Dallas, TX 75275
mdew@mail.smu.edu
214-SMU-FILM

..never afraid to provoke discontent with the status quo...*