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Penn State Fayette film series to focus on politics

| Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

While political battlegrounds are heating up, Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus is inviting the community to take a break from the real life rhetoric and see the political process through film.

The 10th annual film festival will begin Oct. 16, with film events continuing throughout October and into November. This year's theme is “Vote for Reel” and will feature films that focus around politics. Each film is free, open to the public and will take place in the campus' Williams Building, beginning at 6 p.m.

On average a couple hundred people attend the films throughout the series each year. Every year there is a different theme.

“It was a natural tie in with the election and at this time of year people get inundated with political ads. This is really a chance for people to take a little break and enjoy a film,” said John Riddle, Penn State Fayette's head librarian and organizer of the annual film festival.

After each movie there will be a question-and-answer period.

“We will have a little discussion comparing what is happening in the movie and what is going on in the real campaigns happening in the community.

Riddle, who is also an adjunct professor of film studies, has organized the event for the past 10 years. He begins planning the event in the summertime.

“I love film. I have a degree. It's my thing. I love talking about film, showing a film people may not have heard of and seeing them really enjoy it. I hope to do it for 10 more years,” he said.

Films being featured at this year's film festival include a documentary, two dramas and a couple of comedies.

The first film in the series is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939). The movie stars Indiana, Pa., native James Stewart as Jefferson Smith, a new naïve senator who must learn to play hardball while staying true to his idealism. Facing down corruption and scandal, Smith's desperate speech at the end is one of the greatest scenes in movie history, Riddle said.

On Oct. 18, the drama “The Best Man” (1964) will be shown. Based on a play by recently deceased Gore Vidal and starring Henry Fonda as an honest by-the-rules presidential candidate pitted against his do-anything-to-win challenger played by Cliff Robertson, the film evokes a time when conventions were not just managed media events but fight-to-the-death political struggles.

The award-winning documentary “The War Room” (1993), about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, will be shown on Oct. 23. The film features a unique behind-the-scenes study of the art and craft of a campaign.

The popular comedy “Wag the Dog” (1997) will be shown on Oct. 25. The political satire stars Dustin Hoffman as the movie producer with the biggest job of his career and Robert DeNiro as the seasoned political hand for whom inventing a war is just another spin tactic.

On Oct. 30, “Election” (1999), a brilliant comedy about a vicious high school election for class president that mirrors national politics, is featured, starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Klein.

The final film in the series on Nov. 1 is the British comedy “In the Loop” (2009). A side-splitting send-up on how England and the United States leaders would like to get into a Middle East war, almost in spite of themselves. Bumbling Member of Parliament Simon Tucker makes a television remark that sets off waves of political shenanigans in London and Washington. As the dim-witted Tucker tries to “manage” the events, his higher-ups stumble over each other trying to find the political gravy in all this.

For more information about the film festival, call 724-430-4155 or visit the campus website

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