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News and Media

Student Films Showcased at the Apollo

Jun. 11, 2010

Theresa Desautels and Willa Sparks
Photo by Ma'ayan Plaut '10

Oberlin Cinema Studies students had the opportunity to view the culmination of their semester’s work on the big screen, at the Apollo Theater on May 20. The films—10—were screened again, to sell-out crowds, during Commencement/Reunion Weekend.

May graduate Theresa Desautels’s documentary film, Hungry for Health: A Journey Through Cleveland’s Food Desert, examined the impact on inner-city residents who live in “food deserts.” Willa Sparks, the subject of Desautels’s film, was present during screenings.

“Oberlin College holds as an ideal a commitment to social justice. As an aspiring filmmaker in the cinema studies department, the experiences afforded to me sharpened my focus and gave life to this ideal,” Desautels told the Wilder Bowl Bulletin. “With the support and guidance of my Cinema Studies professors, I was able to move beyond the production studio and into the community to document the most important part of Cleveland—its people.

“My film followed Cleveland resident, Willa Sparks, as she traveled an hour out of her neighborhood just to find affordable, fresh food for her family. While researching my film, I met incredible people, including Cleveland residents, students, activists, artists, and authors, who had much to say about food access in Cleveland and food justice throughout the nation," Desautels said.

“From this experience, I learned that cinema studies is more than just entertainment. Cinema studies informs, influences, and supports the community," she said. "As a student, I was able to make a film that gave a voice to an underrepresented community. A critical component of this process was the opportunity to screen my film at the historic Apollo Theater. The Apollo screening was the ultimate culmination for me and my peers as we transition from being students to community members and agents for social change," she said. "I can leave Oberlin with the knowledge and skills I need to pursue a career in film in the social justice arena."

For another viewpoint of the senior film project experience, read a blog by May graduate Ma’ayan Plaut. Her account focuses on the stress of preparing her project, defending it to the cinema studies professors, and the thrill of seeing her film, and those of her classmates on the big screen. Her photos capture the excitement of the evening.  

Generous support from Oberlin College alumni, parents, and friends have made the purchase and renovation of the Apollo Theater possible. The college is raising funds for phase two, which will create lab space for cinema studies students so they can craft films under one roof. Phase two also will create space for the Apollo Outreach Project, a community outreach program that will begin this summer with a film camp for high school students. The Apollo Steering Committee, led by current parents and actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are actively fundraising to close the gap on phase two. You can make a gift. Learn how

Other Senior Films Screened at the Apollo

Soupe du Jour by Ma'ayan Plaut               
A College Student's Guide To Stealing Art by Patrick Willems
letter by Ashley Roberts
Fresas by Jason Outenreath
The Lone Wolf by Jacob Coburn
Lonely Americans by Lucas Rainey
Defense by Christine Gentes
UNSPOKEN by Ellington Wells
Out of Nowhere by Jay Nolan


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