LSU Hosting Film Festival as Part of Charles Dickens Bicentenary
Semester-long series of films, discussions and cultural talks began Feb. 6
BATON ROUGE – LSU will screen a series of films based on the works of Charles Dickens as part of the worldwide celebration of the author’s 200th birthday. The festival began on Feb. 6 with David Lean’s classic take on “Oliver Twist” and will end on April 16 with George Cukor’s “David Copperfield,” the 1935 film that cemented Hollywood’s fascination with Dickens adaptations.
Through the Dickens Bicentenary Film Festival, LSU is coordinating with a host of Baton Rouge organizations celebrating the birth of Victorian England’s most famous writer on Feb. 7, 1812. LSU’s Hill Memorial Library will showcase their collection of rare material on Dickens throughout the spring. Earlier this month, the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Library chose Dickens’s 1837 novel “Oliver Twist” as their One Book, One Community selection. The festival is sponsored by LSU’s Department of English, International Studies Program and Program in Film and Media Arts.
In addition to Lean’s “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield,” the festival will feature other famous adaptations of Dickens’s work such as Lean’s “Great Expectations,” the Oscar-nominated musical “Oliver!” and Roman Polanski’s 2005 adaptation of “Oliver Twist” with Sir Ben Kingsley as the villainous Fagin. However, the screenings also feature lesser-known and overlooked Dickens films, including Tim Greene’s tale of South African AIDS orphans, “Boy Called Twist,” and the 1998 Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation of “Great Expectations” by “Children of Men” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” director Alfonso Cuarón.
“We want audiences to discover or revisit the classic Dickens films on a big screen,” said festival director Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield. “But we also want to showcase how international cinemas as far reaching as South Africa and Mexico adapt these same Dickens stories to their own cultural contexts.”
The festival also hopes to show how Dickens’s world relates to the Baton Rouge community. Advocate columnist and Clearly Delicious blogger Helana Brigman will discuss the similarities between Gulf Coast and Victorian cuisine, while several LSU professors will talk about facets of Victorian culture. Organizations such as the Baton Rouge AIDS Society will also be on hand to highlight the local connection to many issues presented in the films.
“From AIDS in South Africa and child homelessness in Baton Rouge, to quaint customs of Victorian courtship to the scandalous intrigue of Victorian undergarments, these films and discussions not only show how entertaining Dickens is on screen but also show how relevant he continues to be at 200,” said Sharon Aronofsky Weltman, professor of 19th century British literature at LSU.
Events will begin at 6 p.m. in Coates 143 on LSU’s campus. Admission is free. The schedule is as follows: Feb. 6 – David Lean’s “Oliver Twist”; Feb 13 – David Lean’s “Great Expectations”; Feb. 27 – “Oliver!”; March 12 - Alfonso Cuarón’s “Great Expectations”; March 19 – “Boy Called Twist”; April 2 – Roman Polanski’s “Oliver Twist”; and April 16 – “David Copperfield.”
For more information, contact Hollyfield at 225-767-4139, 865-567-9904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.