Funding sets the scene for film group’s return

Friday night in the West Bank Auditorium a congregation of kung fu connoisseurs, horror film junkies and movie lovers welcomed a student film group back to campus.

Trash Film Debauchery’s Friday screening of “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky” was the group’s first since October, when the University denied the group space because it didn’t have the proper rights to legally show films.

The group acquired $2,500 in grants from the University and Coca-Cola in December, said anthropology senior and group founder Theresa Purcell. The funding allows the group to purchase movie rights and show movies in University-provided space.

When the group formed in fall 2004, Purcell said she checked with the Student Activities Office about copyrights before showing films. But, she said, the office left her with the impression that it “wasn’t a big deal,” so she continued the screenings.

Purcell said the group tried to move its screenings to Oak Street Cinema when the members could no longer show films on campus.

But the deal fell through, Purcell said, when the theater stopped answering her e-mails and seemed uninterested.

“Oak Street does not have the capacity to take on any new programming right now,” said Rick Hansen from Oak Street’s parent organization, Minnesota Film Arts.

A lack of funding and manpower, he said, probably was the reason the theater could not house the group’s showings.

“That’s when I decided to apply for every grant I could think of,” Purcell said.

Mandi Watkins said Student Activities staff met with the group regularly throughout the funding process.

“We want all student groups to be successful ” that includes them,” Watkins said.

Purcell said the increased space and ability to have two free showings of each movie are what the group needed.

“Before we were in a classroom that held 60 people and more than 100 would show up,” Purcell said.

She said her priority is to allow anyone who is interested to come to the screenings

“I don’t want anyone to not be able to see these movies just because they don’t have five bucks or we don’t have enough room,” Purcell said.

The group’s new setup and its established fan base from last year keep Purcell optimistic about the group’s future.

“Though this whole thing has been a lot of work, I’m confident that once it’s up and running it will do well,” she said.

And her attitude is not without good reason.

Journalism sophomore Jon Carnes and neuroscience sophomore Shane Johnson were regulars at the Friday night screenings. They agreed they were disappointed when the screenings stopped.

“I guess we just really like bad movies,” Carnes said.

Senior Geneva Sarni said the group is more about having fun than liking the right films.

“It’s just about movies that are fun to watch with lots of people,” she said.

Freelance Editor Emily Kaiser welcomes feedback at [email protected]