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Bryn Mawr Film Institute Brings Its Programming To The Hill

Photo courtesy of Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Inside the historic, fully-restored 1926 Seville Theatre on Lancaster Avenue, lies a hidden gem within the community: Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI).

As a nonprofit movie theater and film education center, BMFI offers movie screenings, film education courses, filmmaker Q&A, guest speakers, and interactive programs to the nearly 200,000 people who patronize the establishment.

As the Senior Director of Education and Administration for BMFI, Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D. is tasked with planning and executing the curriculum each year, both inside and outside of the theater.

“We have a number of partnerships with residential communities, and I truly love working with The Hill at Whitemarsh,” says Douglas. “We’ve been providing Hill residents with private film lectures since 2010, and it really enhances educational and cultural engagement, which is a big part of life at The Hill. The residents are very intellectually curious—curious about new things and ideas, and open to learning every day.”

As part of the partnership between BMFI and The Hill, Douglas plans a private lecture series that he executes on site at The Hill monthly between February to May and September to December. The program typically consists of a lecture illustrated by film clips or a 10-15 minute lecture about a specific film followed by a screening of the film and Q&A after the credits roll.

Douglas has found that while the intellectual and artistic stimulation is part of the appeal of his film series, he also notes that many older adults didn’t have the opportunity to study the arts in college and are making up for lost time.

“They didn’t have the ability to learn about film the way younger generations have. Film literacy is a new concept for them, but it really gives them the chance to discover something brand new. Even if the movie we’re screening isn’t new to them, our programming gives them the opportunity to see an old movie in a whole new way.”

Photo courtesy of Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Both in the lecture series for The Hill and in the education programs at Bryn Mawr Film Institute, many people report that although they’ve already seen the movies being screened, they have never experienced watching them in a theater. Douglas has seen firsthand how it can be a whole different emotional experience for people, one that is really powerful.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute prides itself on being one of the few places in the country that has a film education program for adults. Douglas explains that the education program was inspired by the idea of introducing people to new things and getting them to see why new things are worth experiencing.

“I’m coming up on 15 years with the Film Institute, and I still feel lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community that enriches the lives of so many,” says Douglas. “We have great summer programming planned at BMFI, including the screenings of four Hitchcock films, as well as a film by Akira Kurosawa, Lawrence of Arabia, and Casablanca. We’ll show a total of 20 classic movies between June and August.”

“I try to pick movies from different eras, genres, and countries,” says Douglas. “As an educator, part of my job is to expose people to things they should know about or will be of some greater interest, and movies have a way of putting bigger issues into historical context.”

Even if you’ve seen these films already, it’s worth coming out to experience them while sitting in the audience of an iconic theater. As Douglas has witnessed firsthand, it’s an experience that could change your life.

To learn more about the programming or becoming a member of BMFI, visit their website at www.brynmawrfilm.org.