By: Kevin McDonnell
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – The lights dim, overly-priced popcorn in your hand, your drink already mostly gone from the trailers. Whether it be a family outing or a date the movies have become a central part of our lives. With the advent of Netflix and its binge-able content movies are the last vestige of not so instant gratification in entertainment. We discuss trailers with friends or make plans to see movies with our friends. Much like music, movies tell us a lot about the people we surround ourselves with and impart all sorts of messages on our society.
For some of us, our love of movies starts at a young age and this was no different for Dr. Joseph Sirianni as he remembers making film magazines and writing movie reviews as early as 10 years old. However, now with NU’s film studies minor it is not only Dr. Sirianni that gets to revel in his love of cinema, but a whole myriad of students eager to discuss film in new and exciting ways with professors from across the university.
This semester the College of Arts and Sciences unveiled their newly created Film Studies minor to offer NU students the opportunity to study film at the collegiate level. Dr. Mark Barner and Dr. Sirianni of the Communication and Media Studies department both mentioned their excitement in offering this program to the NU students. Discussion of the minor has been happening for just over a decade now with substantive development of the program into its current form occurring over the course of the last year. This showcases the department’s continued commitment to offer a film studies curriculum to the NU student body.
The current minor is the product of a campus wide collaboration from across the university and its various academic disciplines. Minors at Niagara require that at least half of the required courses must come from outside of a student’s major. Therefore, even though it would have been possible for the Communications Department to offer a minor to the rest of the university community the lack of available film courses outside of communications would have made it impossible for students within the department to attain the minor. Dr. Sirianni noted one his primary goals with the newly introduced minor is “helping students choose their suitable path within the minor,” as communications faculty have worked to include a production track for students interested in the actual creation of film themselves.
Dr. Barner who is serving as the interim chair had this to say in relation to the Film Studies minor. “People don’t realize the extent to which the way film influences society and that movies are not just a form of entertainment. Every curriculum has to be viewed as a living thing that has to evolve and change over time and minors are a good way to do that.” Dr. Barner went on to say that to not continually expand course offerings is to do a “disservice to our students.”
The Film Studies minor is a testament to the NU faculty’s determination to continue to offer their students innovative ways to supplement their education in meaningful ways. The introduction of this minor will hopefully serve as a catalyst for a growing appreciation of film on our campus and maybe one day produce the next generation of leading filmmakers and critics.