The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico Southwest Film Center, located on the first floor of the Student Union Building, is a student-run organization that showcases films for free throughout the semester. The upcoming spring semester includes a line up of film screenings and returning annual events.
The main purpose behind the SWFC is to connect the larger student body with film, according to Emma Harrison, the program’s assistant director.
“The purpose of the Southwest Film Center is to present new, experimental, classic and student-made films for free to the UNM student body, and to provide fun opportunities for students to engage with and learn about film,” Harrison said.
Students are able to attend screenings most weekends during the semester and enjoy free concessions.
“Usually, our films are Fridays and/or Saturdays at 6 p.m. So, you can show up basically whenever. We open the doors 15 minutes before, and it's totally free admission and free concessions,” Harrison said. “We usually have popcorn, candy and some drinks. And then you can just go sit wherever you want with your friends and watch the movie for free.”
This semester, the center will showcase a lineup under the theme of “cult classics” and host several other events including the Cherry Reel Film Festival, an event where students can submit original films to have a chance to be chosen to be shown at the film center, according to executive director Rylee Norman.
“I think it is so important for students to showcase their stuff because a lot of times they don't get (to show) that we're here and that we're doing great things, just as much as the nursing program or the engineering program,” Norman said. “Albuquerque is so big for film, and so having these film festivals and having (the) word out to people catches attention.”
The film festival is one of many ways students can engage with films at the Southwest Film Center. Other student organizations can connect with the film center to present shows. An example happening this semester is the University of New Mexico’s Lobothon partnering with the Southwest Film Center to show “Monsters Inc.”
“(Organizations) just have to connect with us to let us know what they want. And we can try and fit them into our schedule. We do ask for a little support, like we want the club to also bring people in,” Harrison said. “So we would appreciate it if clubs help with the advertising, help with outreach and stuff like that. But otherwise, we'll handle getting the movie and then doing the concessions and everything like that.”
Along with the “cult classic” theme and movies showcased in partnership with various organizations, the film center also focuses on showing foreign films to the student body to provide a broader range of experiences.
“There's so much more to be seen if you go and see a film that was made in Italy. They have a very different way of life than we do and a very different way of storytelling than we do,” Norman said. “And so I think it's important to showcase all stories, all voices, and I think we at Southwest Film Center understand the importance of not limiting the students to only seeing very Americanized films.”
Along with the goal to showcase more than just American or English-language films, the Southwest Film Center hopes to bring in more students this semester’s screenings.
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“You never know what a student's financial situation is, and you never know what could be holding back a student from feeling like they can belong in a community. We don't want a $20 coke to hold somebody back from coming to a screening and having fun with their friends. We don't want to ever hold a student back from going to an event just because of financial stuff,” Norman said.
The first screening of the spring semester will be “The Breakfast Club” on Friday, Jan. 20; a full lineup of the films being screened this semester can be found on the Southwest Film Center website and social media pages.
Elizabeth Secor is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @esecor2003