Centre Film Festival Review

Story posted November 15, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Matthew Peters.

This past week, the State Theatre rolled out the red carpets to kick off the fourth-annual Centre County Film Festival, showcasing various films from every genre imaginable. The festival included films from seven countries worldwide, with topics ranging from polar bears to hazing on college campuses.

These documentaries explore the beautiful differences between one another and how those differences shape individuals and communities. Learning about communities often kept out of the media is eye-opening, and it helps people better understand one another.

Artistic Director Pearl Gluck describes the film festival’s essence as an event that “addresses pressing issues and provides the audience with multiple lenses through which to examine our realities.” It is a privilege, especially for college students, to access such a diverse and influential array of films free of charge.

The second night of the festival featured a documentary short titled “Nuisance Bear,” directed by Jack Weisman and Gabriela Osio Vanden, that gives the viewer a first-person look into the life of a polar bear traveling through Churchill, Manitoba.

While the documentary itself has no spoken commentary, the images of the bear walking timidly through the industrial town speak volumes. The camera follows the bear through its journey, and with the use of auditory effects, the viewer empathizes with the bear as it navigates the strange land.

Another film titled “Hazing” examined cases of hazing deaths at American fraternities and sororities around the country. Through a life-altering self-reflection, director Byron Hurt uncovered the roots of hazing, including the reason for its frequency and the necessary steps to prevent it from continuing in the future.

Being in a fraternity himself (Omega Psi Phi), Hurt is aware of the hazing and abuse that are commonplace when recruiting people into fraternities, coming from research and his personal experiences.

Hurt reflects on the strength of the relationships that fraternity brothers share. This bond makes the creation of a documentary speaking out against his fraternity’s wrongdoings even more courageous and admirable.

In the process, Hurt sat down with family members along with individuals directly affected by hazing processes to bring their stories to the screen. These brave individuals shared chilling stories of cruel hazing, which often unfortunately resulted in the loss of their loved ones.

Psychologists throughout the film discuss how the human tendency to fit into a group could be why hazing remains such a prevalent issue. Transitioning from high school to college is already difficult, and the increase in uncertainty and unfamiliarity makes students more susceptible to wanting or needing to be part of a group.

This would also include going to extreme lengths to “fit in” and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Hurt expressed his interest in creating sequels to this documentary, highlighting solutions universities can implement to keep students safe.

These are just two examples of the rich stories brought to life by the filmmakers. Overall, Penn State students are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn more about the world through these films exhibited at the State Theatre at the Centre Film Festival.

Rating: 9/10

Matthew Peters is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email mbp5830@psu.edu.