WFU, NCSA co-sponsor events featuring film industry professionals

By Maggie Barrett
Oct. 7, 2005

The Wake Forest University film studies program, in conjunction with the School of Filmmaking at the North Carolina School of the Arts, will host an event featuring veteran Hollywood filmmakers Robert and Helen Elswit at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in Wake Forest's Carswell Hall, Annenberg Forum, Room 111.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a screening of "The River Wild," a 1994 film the Elswits — who are husband and wife — worked on together that stars Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon. After the screening, the Elswits will participate in an audience question-and-answer session. A reception will immediately follow the question-and-answer session.

The event is the first product of a new collaboration between Wake Forest and the North Carolina School of the Arts. Peter Brunette, director of Wake Forest's film studies program, said the collaboration presents great opportunities for students and the community.

"It gives our students, who are for the most part only minoring in film studies, a chance to rub shoulders with real industry professionals and fellow students who are living in the same town and heading for careers in filmmaking," said Brunette, Reynolds Professor of Film Studies at Wake Forest. "With both institutions pulling in the same direction, the general community will benefit from greater access to film professionals, especially given the fact that Winston-Salem is grossly underserved in terms of access to serious films."

During their visit, the Elswits will also participate in events at the North Carolina School of the Arts which, due to space limitations, will not be open to the public. Only students and faculty from Wake Forest and North Carolina School of the Arts will be admitted to those events.

A 1977 graduate of the American Film Institute, Robert Elswit began his career working on films such as "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi." As director of photography for director P.T. Anderson, Elswit's credits include the films "Magnolia," "Boogie Nights" and "Punch-Drunk Love."

Elswit is also director of photography for the upcoming, highly-acclaimed "Good Night and Good Luck," a film directed and co-written by George Clooney that chronicles the confrontation between journalist Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Helen Elswit is an independent special effects producer who left a successful law career in her 30s to pursue a career in film production. She has worked on several feature films including "The Perfect Storm," "Outbreak," "Master and Commander," "Space Jam" and "Jack Frost."

Brunette said he is optimistic that the collaboration between the schools will lead to more events in the future and hopes to contribute with his professional connections.

"I actually have greater access to foreign filmmakers," said Brunette, an expert on European and Asian cinema. "We and the North Carolina School of the Arts will be joining forces to bring them to Winston-Salem as well."

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