June 23, 2018
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USM gets ‘more serious with film course offerings,’ launches new cinema studies program

Contributed image | USM
Contributed image | USM
Ariel Rogers, assistant professor of film studies at USM
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine announced Tuesday the launch of a cinema studies minor, with the goal of becoming “one of the few institutions in New England” to offer the film program as a major, a top faculty member said.

“We recently decided to get more serious with our film course offerings, and we’ve started out with a minor to gauge interest,” David Pierson, associate professor of media studies and chairman of the USM Department of Communication and Media Studies, said in a statement. “Portland is the main creative community in the state, and there’s a strong interest in film and cinema. It makes sense to offer this film program here.”

The new program will aim to capitalize on “the region’s reputation as a thriving and innovative film center” and evolve to include public screenings and discussions, according to a press release from the university.

Portland has in recent years hosted the Maine Jewish Film Festival, the Portland Children’s Film Festival, the Portland Maine Film Festival, the 48-hour Film Festival, Maine African Film Festival, the horror-based Damnationland and even the International Moustache Film Festival, among other events.

“To have our students studying film will contribute to the cultural fabric of Portland,” Ariel Rogers, assistant professor of film studies, who will teach the cinema history courses, said in a statement.

The Tuesday announcement from USM described the program as being focused on studying films, directors and how the medium reflects different times and cultures. The program is not described as a filmmaking school, but the introduction of the minor will nonetheless allow USM “to offer some of the same areas of study that other major universities are offering,” Rogers said.

The program will consist of nine class offerings, including two courses on the history of international cinema and social activism through film, as well as online courses on film noir and “three prominent movie directors,” the USM announcement stated, in part. Enrollment in program courses is under way, and class sizes are limited, according to university officials.

“When you look at the entertainment industry, one of the biggest industries globally, movies seem to be at the center,” said Pierson. “Understanding movies helps us to understand our own culture.”

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