Northwestern student groups provide free food, movies at annual international film festival

Sophia Bollag, Reporter

Students gathered last week to eat international food and watch foreign films at an annual festival organized by A&O Productions and the International Student Association.

This year’s International Food and Film Festival ran Nov. 14 to 16 and featured a different student cultural group each night. This year, the South Asian Student Alliance, Alianza and the Taiwanese American Students Club, selected movies and provided food from the countries and cultures they each represent.

SASA screened the outlandish Bollywood comedy “Golmaal 3” on Wednesday night in Fisk Hall and provided Indian food to those who attended.

Thursday night saw the biggest turnout of the festival when more than 50 students came to the McCormick Tribune Center to eat traditional Hispanic food provided by Alianza and watch the Portuguese-language film “City of God,” a graphic drama about gang violence in a Rio de Janeiro slum.

Mei Gao, a Communication freshman who attended the festival Thursday, said she enjoyed the choice of film that night.

“I loved it, both from the cultural aspect of it and from the filmmaking aspect of it,” she said. “I’m glad they chose it.”

TASC hosted the final night of the festival in the McCormick Tribune Center, where the group served Taiwanese food and showed “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” a drama about Japanese-controlled Taiwan during the 1930s.

“The movies generally tend to be a great success,” cultural affairs chair Anandita Puri said. “People enjoy coming out, eating food from different cultures. It’s just a really great way to reach out to the greater Northwestern community, which is something that’s difficult to do on a regular basis.”

Puri said ISA attempts to reach out and feature different groups in the festival each year.

“We try to mix it up and work with as many different groups as possible,” the Weinberg junior added.

She said ISA gave each group a set amount of money to purchase food, which was provided free of charge to attendees.

A&O obtained the legal rights to screen the movies selected by the student groups, films co-chair Louie Hayes said.

“A&O films is all about bringing whatever films that we can to campus that we think students are going to want to go see,” the Communication senior said. “This is an awesome opportunity to bring some different foreign films.”

He said A&O and ISA have collaborated on the event since he was a freshman. The groups continue to organize the festival each year in order to reach out to the broader Northwestern community, Puri said.

“It’s a nice way for us to connect with different cultures,” she said. “Of course, as ISA, we want to raise as much awareness of the different cultures that are present on our campus.”