By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma City University Film Institute series will continue on January 22 at 2 p.m. with a screening of Francois Truffaut’s “The Last Metro.” OKCU’s 35th annual film series is based on the theme “On Being Mortal.”
All films in the series are free to the public in the Kerr McGee Auditorium of Meinders School of Business at N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue.
The series is supported in part by the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund and endowments through Oklahoma City University and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
In “The Last Metro,” Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve star as members of a French theater company living under German occupation during World War II in Truffaut’s gripping, humanist character study. The film is considered by critics to be Truffaut’s ultimate tribute to art overcoming adversity.
Dr. Harbour Winn, founder and curator of the series, said this year’s films were selected to show “how we, as individuals and a culture, confront, avoid and deal with finitude.” After 24 years of service, OKCU announced that Dr. Winn has retired as the director of Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature. Winn will continue working with the Oklahoma Humanities Committee and the National Endowment for the Humanities on special programs.
The new Center director is English Department chairwoman and professor, Tracy Floreani.
“Oklahoma City University’s 35th Annual Film Institute starts again in January with more international films on the theme ‘On Being Mortal.’” said Floreani. ”The films we are showing ask not just that we contemplate the nature of our mortality, but the that we examine the quality of life up until the point of our deaths, and beyond.
“To that end, our January 22 screening of Truffaut’s The Last Metro encourages us to think about taking risks for what makes life most meaningful, through the lens of the theater world in Nazi-occupied France,” Floreani continued. “It asks us: should we be cautious for the sake of personal safety, but a limited life? or should we put our lives on the line for what matters beyond our personal well-being, such as art and principles of freedom and justice?
“Taking on the directorship of the Center for Interpersonal Studies allows me to expand my work in public humanities — something I’m very much invested in,” Floreani said. “The center has been a great cultural resource for this campus and community, and I look forward to continuing that work and finding new audiences for our film series and literary events.”
Floreani started at OKCU in 2010 after 10 years of teaching at Baker University in Kansas. She specializes in post-World War II American literature and cultural studies and in race and ethnicity. She is author of “Fifties Ethnicities: The Ethnic Novel and Mass Culture at Midcentury” (SUNY Press) and is currently working on a biography of Fanny McConnell Ellison — a project that grew out of her leadership in Oklahoma City’s celebration of novelist Ralph Ellison’s centenary.
With a Ph.D. in English from the University of Kansas, Floreani is the recipient of 12 awards for teaching and scholarship and six competitive grants. She has 14 years of experience in development of diversity initiatives in higher education, through university committees, curriculum and program development, and advising of multicultural and social justice student organizations.
On Sunday, February 5, OKCU will present Lasse Hallstrom’s “My Life as a Dog” and on February 19, there will be a screening of Asghar Farhadi’s “Fireworks Wednesday.” The series will include Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent” on March 5.
A discussion session follows each film screening for those who wish to participate.
The OKCU’s Film Institute has been renamed the Harbour Winn Film Institute as a tribute to the contributions he has made to OKCU and to the Oklahoma City community.
For more information about the series, call 405-208-5707 or visit okcufilmlit.org.