OCU launches self-searching film series 

click to enlarge PlaceStand.jpg

April marks the 18th year of Oklahoma City University’s annual documentary film series. This year’s theme is Thing and Spirit Both. The series is traditionally held following spring break and upon completion of its annual OCU Film Institute.

Film screenings are 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17 and May 1 in Kerr McGee Auditorium at Meinders School of Business, NW 27th Street and McKinley Avenue.

“We selected each of these films ultimately because they are great documentary films that enlarge our sense of the world and, thus, ourselves,” said Harbour Winn, director of Oklahoma City University’s (OCU) Center for Interpersonal Learning through Film and Literature. “So a poet, a film critic and a photographer will explore this year’s theme.”

The series launches Sunday with Daniel Glick’s feature-length documentary A Place to Stand. It follows the life of Jimmy Santiago Baca, a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who spent five years in an Arizona state prison. While incarcerated, Baca taught himself to read and write and discovered a passion for poetry, which ultimately saved his life. The film is based on Baca’s 2001 memoir of the same name.

“Baca came to OCU in 2008,” Winn said.

While here, he led a workshop at the Mabel Bassett women’s correctional center in McLoud.

“The women there were so moved that he returned three times in the next year to continue what he had begun,” Winn said.

A Place to Stand is now touring the film festival circuit and has not yet been released commercially.

“We are able to offer the premiere in Oklahoma because of our close history with him,” Winn said.

April 17’s featured documentary is Steve James’ Life Itself, which chronicles the life of acclaimed Chicago film critic Roger Ebert and focuses on the months before the journalist’s death as he continued working while fighting cancer.

The Salt of the Earth, an Oscar-nominated film displaying the work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, screens May 1. German Director Wim Wenders brings to life Salgado’s story of traveling the world capturing iconic and harrowing moments for National Geographic and other major publications.

“Mr. Salgado gave us views of misery from war and famine as well as views of the majesty of the earth’s natural wonders,” Winn said.

Each spring, a major American poet is invited to attend the festival. This year’s guest is Marie Howe, who speaks 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. April 6 at Kerr McGee Auditorium.

“Thing and spirit both” is a line from Howe’s poem “Once or Twice or Three Times, I Saw Something,” published in her 2009 collection The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: “It was a thing and spirit both: the real world: evident, invisible.”

“She often writes about the world filled with spirit, spiritual meaning,” Winn said. “In things, she sees deep essences or the workings of the divine, or at least she ponders that this could be so.”

For more information, visit okcufilmlit.org.

Print headline: Serious cinema, Oklahoma City University’s latest film series examines three documentaries and three iconic storytellers.

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