Film series links university theme


Natalie Tyler

Award-winning director Davy Rothbart talks about his film “17 Blocks” on Oct. 22 in Winona State’s Miller Auditorium. Rothbart’s film was a part of the 2019 University Theme Film Series: Careers, Conflicts, and Callings. The film presented four generations of the Sanford-Durant family, who lived 17 blocks from the nation’s capital, but were set back by poverty, violence and abuse.

Hannah Hippensteel, Features Reporter

The “Careers, Conflicts, and Callings” film series, now in its fourth week on campus, continues to prompt reflective conversations about Winona State University’s theme of career readiness.

DeAnna Goddard, the associate director of career services, can attest to the years of planning that have gone into the theme.

Students from the “Curating Films/Series” class also spoke about the work that went into their process.

For Goddard, the career readiness theme began in 2017 when she submitted a proposal.

Once chosen by the president and his cabinet, she spent all of 2018 looking for a team of experts to highlight the eight competencies.

Those competencies are critical thinking, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, digital technology, leadership, professionalism and career management, community engagement and global and intercultural fluency.

Each member of the team chosen by Goddard was given three weeks to spotlight their area of expertise.

“Our main goal with these is three-fold. We want people to be able to identify, articulate and advance,” Goddard said.

With this in mind, Goddard mentioned that in past years, the theme has been highly represented in the beginning but fizzled out.

By putting consistent attention and energy towards the idea of career readiness, students are able to gain more insights.

According to Goddard, one of the ways career readiness has been showcased is the film series.

“I’m excited and proud of the thoughtfulness of the films in the series. They focus on bigger conversations at the workplace and careers as a whole,” Goddard said.

She also said that seeing the movies could help people fit the questions they have about careers or help them generate new ones.

The selection of films comes from the students from J. Paul Johnson’s Curating Films class.

Juniors Brinley Zoller and Hailey Torborg, as well as seniors Gregory Okello and Harrison McCormick, put the series into perspective.

The process, as explained by the group, started when the university theme was announced.

From there, ideas were bounced around about movies to show and the list was narrowed to 10 films.

Teams were assembled to help orchestrate parts of the process, like scheduling and promotion.

For promotion, the students worked with I-Design students to make posters.

The series was funded by the office of community engagement and the English department but is also supported by groups like the Frozen River Film Festival, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, the Colleges of Business and Liberal Arts and many others.

McCormick, a senior majoring in film studies and creative digital media, enjoyed his involvement in the series.

“Curating is the science of picking content to invoke a certain message, so it’s been fun looking for available films that appeal to the audience and the overall theme,” McCormick said.

Collectively, “17 Block,” the film shown Oct. 22, was a fan favorite because of its inspiring content. There was an added sense of enjoyment because the director Davy Rothbart was present for the screening and a Q&A session.

Beyond seeing all their hard work come together, Torborg and Zoller, reflected on their favorite part of the series.

This was Torborg’s second time in the curating class, so she was provided with new insights.

“I really got something new out of it and found ways to approach certain issues. The series also has a real film festival feeling to it,” Torborg said.

Zoller looked at the larger impact for the series.

“It’s cool to see the connection between Winona State and the community and putting on the series helps us see how to further that,” Zoller said.

Although seeing the series come to life was rewarding for all the students in the class, Okello had a thought about what he hopes audiences gain from the series.

“I would hope that anyone who comes to see a film would not leave the same way they came in,” Okello said.

The final film, “The One Week Job,” will be shown Nov. 7 in SLC 120 at 7 p.m.