When Distinguished Senior Lecturer in German Studies Jane Sokolosky was named the new director of the Center for Language Studies this past June, she decided that she wanted to give students the ability to access languages in a “study break, daily routine, casual” sort of way. She concluded that the best way to realize this goal was through a weekly foreign film screening that would showcase some of the most venerated and loved films made in every language. To curate the film selections and run the screenings, she reached out to two extremely enthusiastic, film-savvy students in her Intensive German class, Layla Beckhardt ’20 and Emine Ciger ’21. Ciger was already working as a projectionist for the Modern Culture and Media department, and both girls were “always talking about films in class,” according to Ciger.
Now every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Metcalf Auditorium, the CLS will host a foreign film screening, with each week featuring a film in a different language. Last week, the group showed “La Haine,” a 1995 French black-and-white drama that follows three first-generation immigrant boys in the twenty-four hours that transpired after a violent riot killed their friend. This film was chosen because it “combines amazing stylistic technique with subtle messages of the political situation in France,” according to Beckhardt.
Beckhardt and Ciger have compiled a “huge Excel spreadsheet” of foreign movies that they enjoy, but they are also reaching out to student and faculty language groups to inform their selections.
“If it’s a film from a culture that we’re not acquainted with, we’ll find someone” who can identify seminal films from that area, Ciger said.
Next week, they will screen “In The Mood for Love,” a beloved Chinese romance-drama from 2000. In the future, they plan to show films in languages such as Persian, Russian and German, and they will partner with the Korean Student Association and the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative to bring undergraduates films in Korean and Vietnamese.
Aside from the film series, the CLS plans to launch other new initiatives to inform people about different languages and cultures. They are going to start holding lunchtime language tables in Faunce so that students can learn about less-spoken languages and get information about student groups and events. Recently, the CLS prompted the University to start offering Yoruba through distance learning with Cornell, and they are looking into offering Vietnamese on Brown’s campus.
At First Year Orientation, the CLS hosted a language panel featuring over fifteen upperclassmen who spoke about about their experiences learning languages at Brown and the doors that languages opened for them. “Someone was an artist-in-residence in Russia, someone taught English in Germany. It’s so cool,” Sokolosky said.
“One of my goals is to bring languages into the center of campus at Brown. Learning a language is a really important part of being a global citizen,” she added. “Now undergraduates know that Wednesdays mean they can watch a foreign film at Brown.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative as the South East Asian Studies Group. An earlier version of the article also misspelled the name of the French film "La Haine." The Herald regrets the errors.