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Old Dominion University

During the Oscars, Sid Ganis, president of the Motion Picture Academy, lamented the declining popularity of sitting in a darkened theater with strangers and sharing the enveloping experience of a film on the big screen.

This year's ODU Film Festival, with its theme "The Last Days of Cinema? The Love of Film in the Age of Digital Media," will reflect on the role of the cinema today as it raises new questions and offers answers to the query that has been around since the 1960s: "Are these the last days of cinema as we know it?"

Heidi Schlipphacke and Peter Schulman, faculty members from the foreign languages and literatures department, are serving as festival directors.

"In this year's festival we celebrate films that reflect on the process of moviemaking and the space of the cinema. We will screen films that are concerned with filmmaking and the cinema, as well as with the boundary between the media of film, the photographic image and digital images," Schlipphacke said.

The festival runs April 2-8, opening with the symposium "The Last Days of Cinema? New Directions in Film and Media Studies" from 1:30-4:15 p.m. April 2 in the Mills Godwin Jr. Building auditorium. Following opening remarks by Gary Edgerton, chair of communication and theatre arts and artistic director of the festival, the symposium will feature the following speakers: Sheldon Lu, professor of comparative literature, University of California, Davis, and author of "Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity"; Patricia White, associate professor of English, Swarthmore College, and author of "Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability"; and Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University, and author of "Connected: Or What It Means to Live in the Network Society."

Also on Sunday, April 2, a free Opening Night Reception at Azar's on Colley Ave will begin at 6:00pm.

Later on Sunday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Naro Expanded Cinema in Ghent, keynote filmmaker Jacques Richard's documentary "Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinemathèque" will be screened, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. Regular Naro admission prices.

The documentary tells the story of a visionary who co-founded the most important film archives in Europe in 1936. Despite meager financial resources, Langlois was able to save and store thousands of film copies - even during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Richard brings to light both the qualities and faults of a man whose passion for films has not only marked individuals, but also the history of cinema.

More than 30 films in all will be screened during the festival. Among them are independent films and movies from the burgeoning film industries in Asia. A day will also be devoted to silent film classics. For more information and a complete listing of screenings, lectures and panel discussions, go to the Film Festival Web site at

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