CMU's International Film Festival exposes audiences to different cultures

The Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival is the only international film festival in the world run completely by students. Established in 2006 by the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University, the festival aims to expose the Carnegie Mellon and greater Pittsburgh community to films which they otherwise may not hear about.

This year the festival will run from March 23 to April 9, 2017. There will be 16 films shown, with most of the films’ directors available for Q&A sessions after the viewings. To enhance the experience, receptions following the showings will feature food and artistic performances from the films’ respective cultures. The film premieres often transform into cultural celebrations as people come together to discuss both the film and the culture it came from.

This year’s festival is built around the theme “Faces of Identity” which has become an increasingly significant social issue in the recent past. The festival’s goal is to relate to the entire community by selecting films from a global scale. Throughout the festival, students have the opportunity to become familiar with films that are not blockbusters. Some of these films have never been screened in Pittsburgh, which makes this event even more exciting.

The organization aims to bring the student body together by providing students with a space to explore various cultures that are represented in the school community. Megan Mell, a masters student in entertainment industry management, serves as the logistics coordinator for the festival. Mell stated in an interview with The Tartan that these films “aim to stimulate conversations about who we are as people and as a community. The festival is perfect for starting conversations that are really important and may otherwise not occur.” She also added that the films allow people from different backgrounds to “come together to watch these movies and discuss them after. It’s a very positive atmosphere.”

Outside of Carnegie Mellon, religious and social groups from the Pittsburgh area come together during past festivals to put differences aside and have meaningful discussions. “Everyone is going through similar issues and seeing these issues depicted in multiple films forms a stronger sense of community,” Mell added.
Peter Geyer, a sophomore in business administration, stated in an interview that the films the organization screens “are rarely seen anywhere else in the U.S. and give people the opportunity to see stories from different international points of view, opening audiences’ eyes to issues and viewpoints they may have never known existed.”

On Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. there will be a sneak preview of the Film Festival where the film Interrogation will be shown. Director Vetrimaaran will be present for a Q&A session after the showing. Interrogation has won many awards including Best Feature Film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2016, Best Feature Film in Tamil, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Editing at the Indian National Film Awards in 2016, and the Amnesty International Italia Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. The film tells a true story about human rights, police violence, and social injustice. Vetrimaaran is a critically-acclaimed Indian film director who produces under his own company, Grass Root Film Company.

Tickets for the screening are available online and cost $5 for students and $10 for general admission.