Discussion, interaction expected from new PAC series

With a very exciting season scheduled at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC) this year, there is an important addition worth noting.

The new On Screen/In Person series will run in conjunction with the Guelcher Film Series at the PAC.

On Screen/In Person was launched in 2011 as a way to bring independent American films and their makers to communities in the mid–Atlantic region. Filmmakers work with the community to help develop a deeper respect for the film’s subject matter and the art of film.

There will be six On Screen/In Person films shown at the PAC this season. The first to show is “Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives,” and it will run Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m.

This is quite a unique opportunity that the Mercyhurst community has, as only 30 out of 250 applicants were chosen from the mid-Atlantic region.

Director of the PAC Michael Fuhrman said he hopes the college uses this opportunity to the fullest.

“I hope we can take advantage of having these guests on campus and engage our community,” he said.

The decision to pursue a season that includes On Screen/In Person was an easy one for Fuhrman. He said that this type of film discussion is in Mercyhurst’s past.

The concept of the Guelcher Film Series originated in the early 1980s, when George Garrelts, Ph.D. headed a program called “Films for Discussion.” They would show international or independent films in Zurn Recital Hall and then hold discussion about the film’s topic afterward.

Though the public remains polarized on political and social issues, people have strayed away from this type of interaction as internet technology such as Netflix and Hulu have gained popularity.

“We are the only movie house in the city of Erie,” Fuhrman said.

So by hosting independent films that are controversial or may deal with social issues, he hopes that people will come and enjoy film together.

Fuhrman emphasizes that the most important idea with the Guelcher Film series, and particularly with On Screen/In Person, is to “bring people together and have a collective experience.”

Enjoying art in a collective setting is what makes it so distinct. It is about the experience of going to the theater, watching the performance (in this case a film) and being able to have a stimulating conversation about it afterward.

This is exactly what the PAC is trying to bring to the Mercyhurst community with the addition of the On Screen/In Person series this 2011-2012 season.