DFS evaluates success of 'Sex in the Cinema'

by Elizabeth Tedesco | 11/22/95 6:00am

While movies about sex might be big box office draws for most Americans, they are advertised as just another facet of the "cinematic education" offered to Dartmouth students by the Dartmouth Film Society.

The DFS series this Fall term titled "Sex in the Cinema" was not constructed to "titillate or sell tickets," and it has not been received that way, according to Bill Pence, director of film at the Hopkins Center.

"I think it's one of the best series we've ever undertaken," Pence said. "If it has turned some people off, others have replaced them."

The idea of the series is to explore the a variety of sexual portrayal in film, DFS Director Mobina Hashmi '96 said.

"We didn't use films like '9 1/2 Weeks' and 'Basic Instinct,'" Hashmini said, noting such films have "a lot of sex" but "don't expose much besides."

While themes of subtle sexual perversion were involved in movies like 'Blue Velvet,' released in the 1920s, the "in-your-face sex" of hardcore pornography was also explored through pornographic film clips and a panel discussion, Hashmi said.

"People start to think what depictions of sexuality in film mean and how they are codified," she said. "It's difficult to find films that question codings of sex."

Michael Ellenberg '97 and Chris Kelly '96 presented the proposal to the DFS Directorate last spring. Aided by Pence, the students then looked for films to fit their theme.

"In a way, a DFS film series is like a mini-film course," Pence said. "A successful film series will do just that." According to Pence, the educational and cultural value of the films outweighs any other considerations during the selection process.

DFS founders Blair Watson and Maurice Rapf '35 intended for the series to be "like a walk through a living museum of the cinema to graphic art," Rapf said. "It's not meant to be a place of sheer entertainment."

Ticket sales were not "remarkable in any way," according to Hashmi, who said "Sex in the Cinema" drew similar crowds to past DFS series, including "Secrets" last spring and "Blockbusters" last summer.

"The Auteres," the DFS series theme this winter, includes films by directors who are regarded as the authors of their work. Woody Allen and Buster Keaton are among those who will be featured.