Harper College's new film series brings celebrated movies to campus

  • Harper College's Spring Film Series runs on Thursdays through May.

    Harper College's Spring Film Series runs on Thursdays through May. Courtesy of Harper College

Updated 1/24/2023 10:35 AM

Harper College's Spring Film Series is scheduled to bring screenings of revered movies to campus - from well-known hits ("Alien," "Tootsie") to films outside of the mainstream ("Tampopo," "Big Night").

The free events, presented by Harper's Communication Arts Department, will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays from Jan. 26 through May 4. Open to everyone, the films will screen in Building E, Room E107, preceded by a brief introduction from Harper's film studies instructors and followed by optional discussions.


"Instructors who teach film history at Harper, like I do, have been wanting to show more films to a larger variety of folks on campus," said associate professor Brian L. Shelton. "There's not a history of this, as far as I know, at the college. And there's not really a place in the Northwest suburbs where you can consistently see classics or non-first-run movies. Our goal is to build a following among film fans at Harper."

Indeed, Shelton and adjunct instructor Erik Hanson, who co-conceived the film series, are looking to create a larger community around films worthy of discussion. Although the movies will screen in a lecture hall for now, there are plans to build a new film theater in Building E that will better support future screenings for both film courses and events.

"Events like this are part of what's wonderful about being on a college campus," Hanson said. "We're hoping to draw plenty of film students, but also appeal to art-minded people on campus and in the surrounding community."

Faced with the daunting task of how to select the first screenings to build a film-focused community, Shelton and Hanson decided to look at themes shared between certain movies. This spring's entries are centered on three of them: the heist, the food and the women.

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French director Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Cercle Rouge" (1970) will kick off the series (as well as a run of celebrated heist pictures) on Jan. 26. Films by Wong Kar Wai, Ridley Scott and Agnès Varda and featuring actors Walter Matthau, Stanley Tucci and Sigourney Weaver will continue throughout the semester. Sydney Pollock's "Tootsie" (starring Dustin Hoffman as an actor who begins a new identity as a woman to land a role) serves as the series' May finale.

"It will be interesting to see how 'Tootsie,' which was released in 1982, will play in the context of 2023," Shelton said. "Plus, in this era of streaming, there's a distinct difference between seeing films with other people versus watching them at home."

Hanson added that seeing movies with strangers creates "a shared experience where you fully engage with a film and react to the content differently."

Another series with new themes and films is in the works for the fall of 2023. In the meantime, both Shelton and Hanson are excited to connect with fellow film viewers beyond of the confines of the classroom.


"We hope to build a conversation and a community around this," Shelton said.

Spring Film Series Schedule

When: Thursdays from January through May

Where: Harper College, Building E, Room E107, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine

Cost: Free

The Heist

"Le Cercle Rouge" (1970); January 26

"The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974); February 2

"Hopscotch" (1980); February 9

The Food

"Tampopo" (1985); February 16

"In the Mood for Love" (2000); February 23

"Big Night" (1996); April 13

The Women

"Cléo From 5 to 7" (1962) -- April 20

"Alien" (1979) -- April 27

"Tootsie" (1982) -- May 4

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