New course, Cinema and the City, aims to connect students back to why film is important

Written by: 
Jemesa Snuka


Cinema and the City, the newest film course at BYU–Hawaii, will be taught by Professor Mason Allred in Winter 2019 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in hopes of bringing the concept of how film can bring people together.

The new film course centers around the idea that both cinemas and cities have historically brought diverse people together, while simultaneously shaping experience and ways of seeing, according to Allred, a communications and media professor.

When asked about the new course, Allred said he hopes students will understand how film affects people both collectively and individually. He explained, “We will be thinking and discussing the history of vision and how architecture, the built environment, and cinematic media have packaged and influenced how we see urbanity and by extension often how we feel about it. We will be looking at themes like modernity, crime, mass media, industrialization, gender, race and rhythm as they are connected to cities and cinema.”

He shared how film is an art form, the same way people create paintings on canvas. Allred said it is a way in which individuals can express who they are, and the course aims to explain how it can also express a body of people. Aside from just the film aspect of the class, he said the city part is equally important.

Hannah Howells, a junior from Utah studying biology, explained what she thought movies did for individuals expressing socially. “Movies offer an artistic escape to experience many things we would not usually. We are able to feel a sense of adventure or thrill without major financial, time-consuming side effects. It spreads stories, fact, and fiction, while helping to educate society.”

Allred commented about his goals for the “in the city” part of the study. “I am particularly interested in having students from a variety of places de-familiarize their urban experiences and examine them alongside the representation of various cities through some fantastic films. I hope the films, readings, and discussions will also inspire us to live, envision, and design our future worlds with more care and creativity.”

He explained how even though many people think film is a dying medium, it still holds true to many of the things that make it popular. Films continue to always explain situations, and they constantly are based on metaphors, as well as conversations people have in society.

People often ask if film is a representation of what others see in the world, or if it is individuals putting real life into the things they see from cinema. This course will help define both reasons why this occurs, as well as helping to invoke an emotional response for both things. The course will also aim to reignite much of what makes a good film. It hopes to explain both the art of film and what can really move an audience, since people do not gather in the cinema as much as they used to.

Movies help unite those people who otherwise would never interact with each other. Gabriela McFarlane, a junior from Utah studying biomedicine, said, “Movies are important to society because they have the unique ability to unite different groups of people through shared emotions and ideas. Movies convey thoughts, ideals, and themes in a way that cannot always be expressed through simple conversation”

Allred said he hopes this class is engaging to others and not just his students. He said he also wants to create an environment where students will become engaged with what cinema does for the human spirit.

Allred concluded, “Rather than defaulting into passive audience members, we can actively engage with the films—dissect them, recognize their detailed construction, praise, reject, or even be inspired by them. Even as we critically examine films to help become better human beings and pursue truth, I would hope we could also maintain the capacity to let ourselves be immersed—to fall in love with cinema over and over again.”

Cinema and the City will begin next semester. It is listed as the class “Film 365” and can be used for the humanities and communications majors.


Date Published: 
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, December 5, 2018