University

Cinema Series brings us the films we likely wouldn’t see

The Augusta University Cinema Series is a free, ongoing screening series dedicated to offering students, faculty, staff and the Augusta community the unique opportunity to experience the best in classic, cult, foreign and independent cinema.

“We champion the films that might otherwise not find a screening home here at Augusta multiplexes,” said Matthew Buzzell, associate professor of Communication.

The Cinema Series’ next screening is Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, a documentary that follows a Japanese pianist and composer on his journey through life and music. The film will be shown on Sept. 13 in the Maxwell Theater at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Cinema Series has been a part of Augusta University’s history since the 1970s. Under the Augusta College Film Series, multicultural and foreign films were shown for the community to enjoy. Growing up in Augusta, Buzzell spent his teenage years enjoying the series. It was here that Buzzell found his love for cinema and filmmaking.  

“I saw a number of films that impressed me in considerable ways,” Buzzell said.  “I would regret if I did not say it most definitely impacted my life and broadened my worldview.”

Buzzell plays a key role in the film selection. He spends his summers looking for films, reading reviews and calling film distributors to see what they have planned for release.

“I take my responsibility of curating the Cinema Series very seriously,” Buzzell said. “I look for films that our audience will respond strongly to — films that might speak to what we do here at Augusta University; films from different cultures, because inclusivity is a part of what we do.”

For over 40 years, the Cinema Series has allowed the campus community and the entire Augusta community to come together and experience films otherwise not shown in our region.

“We can all sit home and watch films on our laptops, tablet or our television sets; alone, in the dark or with one or two other people,” Buzzell said. “But, there is nothing better than sitting in a theater with a huge screen and wonderful sound. In a packed house, we can experience these stories and these emotions together. The communal aspect of going to a film can be powerful and rewarding.

Annually, the Cinema Series dedicates a day to screening films from a single country. In the past, there have been days dedicated to China, France, Italy and Japan. This year they are choosing to screen from a specific year instead.

“This fall, we are going to be collaborating with the Lyceum Series for an event that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Maxwell Theatre,” Buzzell said. “The Cinema Series has found a wonderful home with the Maxwell Theater and we want to help celebrate by screening a number of films from 1968, the year it opened.”

The “Cinema ‘68” celebration will be taking place on Nov. 14 and 17 and will include screenings of  2001: A Space Odyssey, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lion In Winter and Once Upon A Time In The West.

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Kashalah Robinson