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Harpur Cinema to highlight faculty member’s film
March 11, 2013Tweet
Monteith McCollum said he is excited that his documentary “A Different Path” is a part of the Harpur Cinema spring film series.
“It’s actually a really great series this year and I am also excited not only to be a part of Harpur Cinema, but also the Visiting Artists Series,” said McCollum, adjunct lecturer of cinema.
The film, which premiered at South by Southwest festival in 2010, looks at how different people “solve their modern mobility dilemmas in an automobile-centric environment.” It will be shown at 7 and 9 p.m. Oct. 15 and 17 in LH-6. Tickets are $4.
McCollum said that he sees filmmaking as a way to gain access to things that he would not “normally experience.”
“That’s one of the exciting things about the creative process, it’s that you push yourself into different areas,” McCollum said. “What I really enjoyed about making the film is not only learning about the topic of people, how they live and their struggles, but also having the excuse to meet people and talk to them in-depth.”
Joyce Jesionowski, lecturer and programmer for Harpur Cinema, said that the decision to put McCollum’s film in the series stemmed from an effort to “refresh and enliven the programming.”
“For the past couple of semesters, the theme of Harpur Cinema has been “what’s new,” so when Monte’s film became available, along with Chris Sullivan’s “Consuming Spirits, it seemed like an exciting new direction for Harpur Cinema,” Jesionowski said. “This spring we have the advantage of being able to show two films that have great current interest in terms of their subjects. And in Monte’s case, we have the special pleasure of highlighting the accomplishments of one of our own faculty members.”
McCollum said the idea for the movie came from a friend’s decision to attempt to walk across Kansas City.
“One of the things in his book was his interest in urban structure and urban design,” McCollum said. “One thing that he did, kind of on a whim just to see if he could do it, was that he tried to walk across Kansas City.”
McCollum explained the difficulty of the task, as there would not be many sidewalks for anyone who tries to make the trek across the city. He also discussed how this obstacle demonstrates a great deal about urban design.
“Well he told me this story, and I started to think ‘that’s an interesting idea,’” McCollum said. “I never really thought about how difficult that kind of task is, except for when I am on Vestal Parkway and I see students trying to walk to places and there’s no place for them to walk. Especially students from the city; they’re used to walking and using the subway, and having transportation built for pedestrians.”
McCollum said that he wanted to find someone who was not doing the task simply as an exercise like his friend, but rather someone who was doing it as a necessity and was struggling with it at the same time. After doing a “quick search,” he found an 82-year-old man in Seattle, who had been struggling to get around his neighborhood.
“You would see the [senior citizens] rolling down the street in their wheelchairs with the cars because there were no sidewalks.”
McCollum said that the problem that the senior citizen faced was due to lack of infrastructure in urban design. The situation is one of the three urban development issues that McCollum focuses on in his documentary.
“The film is about the struggle to navigate an urban environment,” McCollum said.
As McCollum discussed the significance of the documentary, he also explained how he was originally introduced to filmmaking through music. But his initial step into the world of performing arts was through aesthetics.
“I came to film through music in a sense. Although I was in an art school studying painting and sculpture, I had a background in music,” McCollum said. “One of the things that I was interested in when I started thinking about cinema was that it was visual medium that had the potential to combine sound and all other sorts of things.”
McCollum said that he saw cinema as “flexible art form” at a time when he was discovering limitations in other areas of art that he had been working in, such as painting.
“Music first led me to doing music for theater groups in Chicago, and then doing multi-track recording for my own films,” McCollum said. “But then I was really interested in animation, and that was the first course I took at the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s become a part of my work. I would say that every film that I make has some animation in it, or some time lapse, or stop motion.”
McCollum said that he hopes that the viewers who see his film this weekend will be able to think more about urban design and how it affects people everywhere.
“I want people to think about urban design, and to think about what we’ve built for ourselves,” he said. “I want them to relate to the characters and feel sympathetic to a certain degree. So I do want them to think about their environment.”