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Two award-winning filmmakers to visit St. Olaf

By Mara Fink '11
October 21, 2008

St. Olaf will host more than just the Coen Brothers this fall, with two more award-winning filmmakers set to visit campus Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

AugustEveningFilmLarge
Pedro Castaneda, left, seen here with actress Veronica Loren in a scene from August Evening, will visit campus Oct. 23.
Director Chris Eska will screen his film August Evening in a Thursday, Oct. 23 event that will begin at 7 p.m. in Holland Hall 501. He will be joined by lead actor Pedro Castaneda, and together they will answer questions from students, staff and community members after the screening. There will also be a private workshop with Eska for select Carleton and St. Olaf film students the afternoon of the film screening. August Evening opens in the Twin Cities Oct. 24.

A week after Eska's visit to campus, award-winning film director Lance Hammer will host an exclusive screening of his movie Ballast Oct. 30, the day after it screens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The screening will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Buntrock Commons Viking Theater.

Film fever
The screenings are a result of the energy revolving around film at St. Olaf this year as part of an effort to create a film studies concentration, says Boldt Professor of Humanities Diana Postlethwaite. Right now the college curriculum committee is reviewing the proposal, and Postlethwaite hopes the film studies concentration will be added to the curriculum by fall 2009.

Ali Selim, visiting artist in residence in English, is teaching a course at St. Olaf in screenwriting and is the director of Sweet Land, an award-winning independent film. Selim has been involved in coordinating the screenings of the two movies. He says they are simply great works of film and hopes that students, whether film buffs or not, will attend the screenings. "I am not a critic or a theorist," he says. "My response to any film is entirely emotional. I just love these films and want as many people as possible to share them."

Upcoming films
BallastFilm
A scene from Ballast, directed by Lance Hammer.
August Evening is a Spanish-language film that follows the story of Jaime, an aging undocumented worker, and his widowed daughter-in-law, Lupe, as they move to the city. It focuses on Lupe's struggles between being a daughter to her father-in-law while still moving on with her own life. The film has been nominated for and won numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit Award's John Cassavetes Award and "Best Film" and "Best Acting" at the Los Angeles film festival.

Ballast is a drama documenting the grief of three main characters -- Marlee, a single mother; James, her 12-year-old son; and Lawrence, the twin of Marlee's ex-husband -- in the Mississippi Delta following a suicide. The film features all non-professional actors and won directing and cinematography awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or vanderve@stolaf.edu.