Outside the Union Theater most Thursday nights, eager students wait to get a chance to see the week’s free screening. Last night was no different with a special early screening of the upcoming film “Get Out.”
“Get Out” follows a young African-American named Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, as he meets the parents of his white girlfriend. Though interracial relationships have been legal for over 50 years, they continue to carry stigmas from the days of Jim Crow.
“As a black man myself, this is a concept I can relate to: dating a non-black person and wondering if you would really be accepted by that other person’s family,” president of the Film Admiration Society of Texas Alton Braxton said.
FAST is a club at UT that attends local screenings at the Union such as “Get Out” in order to build a community of cinephiles.
“We like to make an effort to attend (the screenings) in a group, that way we can experience the films together and discuss them afterwards,” Braxton said.
“Get Out” is just the type of film that provides interesting conversation fodder for FAST. “Get Out” is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one half of the comedy-sketch duo Key and Peele.” Some may see this as an unexpected change of pace, but according to Peele, horror and comedy are actually quite alike in how they both are about inciting a physical reaction in the audience. The film stars an African-American, a rarity in Hollywood horror flicks.
UT’s screening of “Get Out” was only possible due to the work of Campus Events + Entertainment, a student run organization that puts on different events, free for UT students. E+E has been working with Universal studio’s brand ambassador for the past year to bring early screenings of highly anticipated movies to campus.
“If we get 300 people into a room to see a movie, then those 300 people will go tell their friends that they enjoyed it,” E+E president and UT alumnus Paul Stanley Mannie said. “It’s an easy way to breach into the campus and to get students to go out to their movies.”
This February, there is an emphasis on African-American-led and directed films. For example, next week E+E will be showing the Oscar nominated film Moonlight (2016) with special guest UT alumnus and star of the film Trevante Rhodes.
“(We) were purposeful in putting those films in February, but had they not put them in February, it’s just choosing a film that’s great,” Mannie said, “And I think sometimes that gets confused with, ‘Let’s let the African-Americans watch a movie’ versus just showing a movie that maybe African-American led.”
“Get Out” also expresses a minority perspective rarely seen on the silver screen in how it’s showcases a black man in the lead while simultaneously dealing with such complex issues as institutionalized racism.
“We want to represent those different interests that we didn’t see in the past, and that are coming up now,” Chair of Showtime Wendy Lopez said. “We want people to be able to connect and relate to what is being seen on the screen.”
E+E doesn’t shy away from presenting movies depicting controversial themes such as those expressed in “Get Out.” Just last month, they exhibited Blazing Saddles (1974), a Mel Brooks Western parody that has received criticism for its use of the n-word. E+E differs from other organizations in its location on college campus where students are encouraged to engage with uncomfortable and offensive material.
“Whenever there is something that maybe controversial or offend someone, it can start a conversation,” Lopez said, “The fact that our events have the ability to do that is pretty cool.”
E+E aims to provide more films such as “Get Out” that strive to push the audience’s ability to empathize while still providing quality entertainment.
“All in all, if it’s a good year for movies, it’s a good year for (UT).” Lopez said.
And this year is shaping up to be a stellar one in that.