Members of the film and media arts department have joined forces with Temple Votes!, Philly For Change, The College Democrats, The Diamond Screen Festival Group, The Society of Film, and Red Green Blue (RGB) to sponsor the Election Day Countdown Film Series.
The series, which takes place every Wednesday from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27, is designed to inform and encourage the public to take part in the presidential election.
“Temple Votes! is our organization of student, faculty, alumni, staff and community volunteers,” said film and media arts professor Cynthia Baughman, a faculty co-sponsor for the Election Day Countdown Film Series. “Someone suggested the film series at one meeting, and we thought it would be a fun way to get students interested in the election.”
At each screening, students, faculty members and friends of Temple University can watch the evening’s selected film and discuss the significance of the film afterwards. Also on hand at the free screenings are student and faculty volunteers trained to help register new voters and answer any questions for current voters.
“Pennsylvania state law gives any student who goes to college here the right to vote here,” Baughman explained. “But the deadline for voting in the presidential election is Oct. 4.”
In the month of September, screenings for the Election Day Countdown Film Series include Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism and three half-hour programs from film and media arts professor Mike Kuetemeyer’s “Termite TV.” Director Michael Moore’s Academy Award-winning documentary, Bowling for Columbine will also be shown.
The series continues Oct. 15 with Michael Moore’s latest film, Fahrenheit 9/11, and continues throughout the month with the Clinton-era documentary The War Room.
“We all suggested names of films we thought were exciting, or were in the news,” said Baughman. “I added The War Room because I think it captures the obsessive dedication of campaign workers so effectively.”
Temple Votes! members have also organized a party for Temple students. The men and women behind the Election Day Countdown Film Series will sponsor the “Scare Out the Vote Halloween Party” on Oct. 29.
Prizes will be awarded for the scariest politician costume, the cleverest political statement costume, the best character from a film and the best character from a horror film.
The fact that Temple University is located in Pennsylvania – one of the “battleground states” – means that the presidential candidates spend most of their time and energy trying to get campaign support and votes.
The registration of new voters and the encouragement of current voters to take part in the upcoming election is crucial.
“I want students to know that living in Pennsylvania, they are in a position to cast a vote that matters,” Baughman said. “The 2000 presidential election turned on about 500 votes in Florida. If Pennsylvania is the key state this time around, the votes of one dorm full of Temple students could decide the election.”
The hype and hysteria surrounding the upcoming election is very much warranted – the fallout from the previous presidential election has made plenty of people anxious and eager to avoid another round of election day mishaps.
“Students are the future of this country, and the world is in their hands,” Baughman said. “So many important issues face us: dwindling energy resources, the cost of health care, war in the Middle East, global warming and the AIDS pandemic. We need young people to apply their intelligence to these problems, to be engaged, to take leadership roles – at the very least to cast their vote for our leaders.”
The Election Day Countdown Film Series takes place every Wednesday between Sept. 15 and Oct. 27 in the Atrium at Annenberg Hall located on 13th and Diamond streets.
For more information about the screenings, the contests, or to volunteer, visit the film and media arts office located in the basement of Annenberg Hall.
Marta Rusek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.