When experimental German filmmaker Ute Aurand showed her work at Mount Holyoke six years ago, she was so taken by the students and surroundings that she returned in 2012 to make part of her next film on campus.
That film, to be here, will be shown Tuesday, April 22, at 7 pm in Room 101 of Dwight Hall. Admission is free for the 38-minute film. Aurand will attend the screening and answer questions afterwards.
Robin Blaetz, professor of film studies, knew of Aurand through experimental filmmaker Robert Beavers, who has also shown his work at Mount Holyoke. Blaetz invited Aurand to campus originally to show her work in a program that included two other German women filmmakers.
“She didn’t know anything about women’s colleges, and she started to see Mount Holyoke as an oasis,” says Blaetz, who is currently teaching a seminar on women experimental filmmakers. Aurand was impressed by what she saw as “an idyllic place … filled with self-awareness and creativity.”
To make to be here, Aurand traveled across the country, recording her impressions of America on 16mm film, a rarity in this digital age.
After writing on her website about her impressions at one stop in the middle of Nevada, Aurand wrote, “Earlier I had visited Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and felt almost at home, European, if not German.”
To be here premiered last year at the prestigious New York Film Festival in a program called “Views from the Avant-Garde.”
Blaetz says that rather than being based in a narrative style, Aurand’s work resembles poetry. “And it looks different than most films being shot today,” she says, “because it is shot on 16mm film, which is so much more beautiful than digital. It’s literally rich, and filled with light.”
Upon returning to Mount Holyoke a year and a half ago, Aurand shot at locations around campus and interviewed six students who attended a round-table discussion. Their observations are included in the film.
One of them, Miranda Gontz ’16 of South Pasadena, California, says, “I talked about how Mount Holyoke was an empowering place. It made me think I meant something. It gave me such confidence.”
Another student, Sukriti Singh ’15 of New Delhi, India, is featured extensively and is shown dancing and wandering through the garden behind the Art Museum.
—By Ronni Gordon