Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 18, 1995

MSE Symposium Considers the Cinema at 100

Leslie Rice
Homewood News and Information

     It was just curiosity that drew the crowds of people to see
Thomas Edison's latest invention one century ago. How could they
have known then the colossal impact those odd, grainy, flickering
moving pictures would forever have on American culture?

     Two Hopkins undergraduates have marked the 100th anniversary
of the moving picture by bringing to the Homewood campus an
impressive group of film industry personalities to talk about the

     The 1995 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium, entitled "Framing
Society: A Century of Cinema," will examine the power of the
medium of film. Admission to the symposium, in Shriver Hall at 8
p.m. on various nights from Oct. 10 through Nov. 16, is free and
open to the public.

     During the lecture series, chaired by Hopkins seniors Matt
Gross and Chris Aldrich, an independent film maker will discuss
the recent boom in independent, low-budget films while another
director will talk about the importance of her identity as a
Latina lesbian and her fight not to be pegged as a "queer"
director. Other speakers will discuss the portrayal of African
Americans and women in movies, and India's leading film director
will discuss the international movie scene.

     "We chose speakers who could talk about film in a historical
context," Gross said. "We didn't want someone to just come in and
say, 'Here's my film: look at it'."

     Kicking off the series will be James Robinson, founder and
CEO of Morgan Creek Productions, who will talk about how the film
industry has become big business. Since 1988 Robinson has
produced a couple dozen films, including Young Guns I and II,
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Enemies: A Love Story, Ace
Ventura: Pet Detective and True Romance. Last year Robinson, a
Baltimore resident who commutes every week to the West Coast, was
named the most prolific producer of the year by Hollywood Variety

     Aldrich says he's particularly excited to hear screenwriter
Millard Kaufman, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2. Kaufman, 78, has
weathered the ups and downs of the film industry for decades.
Besides writing memorable Lee Marvin and Spencer Tracy westerns
like Bad Day at Black Rock and Take the High Ground, he is known
for risking his career by fronting the screenplay Gun Crazy for a
blacklisted friend during the McCarthy era. Still, Kaufman may be
most famous for creating the quirky and comical cartoon character
Mr. Magoo.

     "Kaufman is planning to talk about censorship in film, but
even if he just talks about his career it will be very
entertaining," Aldrich said. "He's very colorful and tells really
funny stories about his experiences with some of the most
powerful people in the industry." 

     During the symposium, Hopkins will also hold the grand
opening of the Shriver Hall Theater within Shriver Hall
Auditorium, which will, by then, be outfitted with
state-of-the-art 35mm projection and sound equipment, making it
the largest movie theater in the Baltimore-Washington area.

     In the future, the new theater, made possible through
university grants submitted by Aldrich and Gross, will host movie
premieres and sneak previews as well as off-beat and foreign

     The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium was established in 1967
by Hopkins' undergraduate student council as a means of honoring
the university's eighth president. Every year since then, a team
of two to three students chosen by the student council, after a
very competitive proposal process, has arranged and managed all
aspects of the series from beginning to end--from selecting the
topic, to raising money (this year roughly $35,000), to booking
the personalities to reserving rooms. Usually about six prominent
figures are booked to address a current national issue.

     Covering topics like the nuclear arms race, human sexuality,
freedom of the press, and foreign policy and race, the symposium
has drawn top-flight speakers like Aaron Copeland, Kurt Vonnegut,
Carl Bernstein, former senators George McGovern and Eugene
McCarthy, Pat Robinson and Isaac Asimov.

     Aldrich and Gross decided they wanted to direct the 1995
symposium after attending many of the lectures from last year's
symposium on children's issues.

    "Chris just turned to me and said, 'Let's do next year's
symposium,' " Gross recalled. "Without even thinking, I said, 'On
movies, right?' He said 'yeah,' and that was it. I wish I could
say it was a decision we pondered long and hard on, but it

     Since their proposal was chosen by the student council last
December, the two have felt the weight of all the successful
symposia of the past, which have captured national and local

      "It's really been a constant pressure, and over the summer
it was a full-time job for both Chris and me," said Gross, who
happens to be a fledgling director. "All things considered
though, I feel really lucky to have been able to do this. Just
the experience of having to deal with every single detail,
getting to know some of these people, and the kinds of things I
have learned has been incredibly rewarding." 

     "Framing Society: A Century of Cinema," is a series of
lectures by film producers, directors, critics and screenwriters.
All lectures and film screenings are free and open to the public
and will take place in the new Shriver Hall Theater on the
Homewood campus.

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m.
     "The Film Industry." James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek
Productions; producer of True Romance, Ace Ventura: Pet
Detective, Major League 2.

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m. 
     Go Fish, written and directed by Rose Troche.

Thursday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m.
     "Sexuality and Film." Rose Troche, writer/director of Go

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m.
Premiere and Screening.
     World premiere of Ondanondu Colloidal, directed by Girish

Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
     "World Cinema." Girish Karnad, leading film director of
India and past director of the Film and Television Institute of

Thursday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
     "Women in Film and Criticism." Molly Haskell, New York film
critic and author of From Reverence to Rape.

Thursday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. 
     "Censorship of Film." Millard Kaufman, screenwriter, Bad Day
at Black Rock, Take the High Ground, Raintree Country; board
member of the Writers Guild of America; creator of Mr. Magoo.

Friday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m.
     Bad Day at Black Rock, written by Mill-ard Kaufman. The film
will be introduced by Kaufman and followed by a question and
answer session.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m.
     "Race and Film." Thomas Cripps, author and history professor
at Morgan State University.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 8 p.m.
Premiere and Screening.
     Premiere of Mardi Gras, Baltimore, written, produced and
directed by JHU students Gil Jawetz and Matt Gross.         
     Screening of Laws of Gravity, produced by Larry Meistrich.

Thursday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.
     "Independent Films." Larry Meistrich, producer of Laws of
Gravity and New Jersey Drive; CEO of the Shooting Gallery.

     Call the symposium office for further information at (410)

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