New Group Hopes To Inspire Student Activism Through Film

Laura Schocker

By Laura SchockerThe Daily Northwestern

Starting this Spring Quarter, film buffs and social activists will have one more thing in common.

Inspire Films, a new student group, hopes to bring together students interested in film and social issues in order to promote positive change.

Communication junior Robert Lavenstein came up with the idea for the group as a way to combine the different strengths of NU’s students and to provide a way to express discontent over social issues.

“As students we have a responsibility to engage in social issues because we’re in a position where we learn about them everyday, ” Lavenstein said. “We can’t let that knowledge go by the wayside.”

Lavenstein said he discussed with some friends the idea for a student group promoting activism through film.

After he came back from studying abroad, Lavenstein started recruiting potential members.

Although the group is still in its early developmental stages, Lavenstein said he has heard from about 50 students interested in joining the group.

Lavenstein said he hopes to make a movie focusing on social issues every spring. Potential topics include public housing, immigration and homelessness, he said.

“The whole purpose of the group is to have an interdisciplinary approach to filmaking,” Lavenstein said. “It’s to bridge the academic with the art.”

The group will choose a script this spring, Lavenstein said, giving it a year to produce a film on the chosen topic.

Inspire Films will raise money and provide the technical support to produce the film.

The group’s first film – which he said could be a narrative, documentary or experimental style – will premiere in spring 2008.

Lavenstein said the group is looking for a wide variety of people to be involved, not just film majors.

“You don’t necessarily have to be a film major to write a script,” Lavenstein said. “We get a unique collaborative process going.”

Lavenstein said he hopes the group will organize several events in the quarters leading up to the film’s premiere, including question-and-answer sessions and speakers related to the film’s topic.

“There’s enough socially active people on campus, but they haven’t found a venue for their activism,” Lavenstein said. “We want to create the space for fair dialogue at Northwestern.”

Students said Inspire Films will fill a void on campus.

“I’ve really wanted to do something like that for a long time,” said Communication junior Ginger Davis, who heard about the group from the performance studies e-mail list.

Although she said she doesn’t know if she will join, she expects the group to be successful.

“I know a lot of people with similar interests,” Davis said. “It’s needed on campus.”

Weinberg junior Kate Goodman said Inspire Films’ mission is what drew her to the club and is leading her to apply for the group’s executive board.

“I’ve been looking to get more involved in social justice issues on campus,” she said. “It’s a new and innovative way to get involved.”

Reach Laura Schocker at [email protected]