Between Feb.19-28, eight different films in eight different languages are screening at locations around campus as part of the annual Roanoke College International Film Festival (RCIFF). After an exciting and successful inaugural year, Modern Languages professor Dr. Elizabeth Groff is thrilled to be bringing the festival back in 2020. “We’ve partnered with a lot more people, a lot more departments,” Groff said, “so we’re doing a bit more than last year.”
Each language studied at Roanoke College is represented by a film in different languages, including Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Italian and Hindi. English subtitles are provided and all screenings are free and open to the public. This year, the theme of the festival is food. Not only is the theme universal, but there are also strong cultural ties to native foods and to the act of gathering around a meal.
“[In America,] we eat all these foods,” Groff said, “and I think it is important for us to talk about the cultures surrounding them as well.” In addition to receptions after the film screenings, Commons is serving dishes to match whatever film is showing that day, to give everyone a taste of the traditional cuisine prior to seeing the film.
All of the screenings are also followed by faculty-led discussion panels to further explore the films and give the audience a chance to ask questions. By incorporating these educational elements, RCIFF hopes to not only expose audiences to new and interesting films, but also to the cultures that these films come from. “Watching international films can help to expand your worldview,” says senior Steph Zemba. “Films from different cultures often have unique perspectives on topics and being exposed to these viewpoints can make you more empathetic and lead you to think critically about your own attitudes and opinions.” RCIFF is clearly about much more than entertainment; the purpose of the festival to open the eyes of students, faculty, and residents of the Roanoke Valley to the broader world around them and to provide an opportunity to connect with other cultures.
“We can learn a lot from a film,” Groff said. “So if we can’t be immediately in contact with other cultures all the time, we can through a film.” To learn more about the festival and see a schedule with all film screening times and locations, visit www.roanoke.edu/rciff.