By Sonal Dhiman
LCCC’s Film Society boasts of screening movies from across the globe, covering socially influential subjects that trigger meaningful discussions. All this is because of the dedicated involvement of Professor Robert Dudash, Film Society Director and Professor Emeritus at LCCC.
Professor Dudash screened the very first film on campus more than forty years ago and he retains the position of Director of the Film Society, attending every movie screening and encouraging a healthy exchange of ideas after the screening through lively discussions or chats.
He joined LCCC to teach composition in 1964, with a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin and a master’s from Northwestern University. In 1966 he launched the LCCC Film Society, showing films on a campus but with a cinematic experience that also afforded the students and community members with a platform to present their views through intelligent discussions.
Dudash affirms that he “used to show movies in lecture halls or any space large enough for the projector and chairs for the audience. But thankfully we now have the Stocker Center for the screenings. I was the happiest when I saw it being built 27 years back.”
Dudash says that the reason for starting the Film Society was to “reinforce what was being done in the film courses and to bring the community together.” He explains the reasons behind his selection of films as “it didn’t make sense to just get popular films. We have a cinema hall right across the street for that. Art cinema and movies that promote critical thinking are the need of the society, they always have been.” He always wanted to “showcase films from across the world, if not in space, at least in thought proves, it gives people a glance into various cultural perspectives.”
For Dudash the post movie discussion is as important a part of the experience as the movie itself. He recalls an experience where a member of the audience was so moved by a movie that he “called about two to three weeks after the screening to ask if we could hold a discussion about it.” People often want to “hang around and go across the street for some coffee and chat and I always oblige.” There are different kinds of reactions to each movie, some strong, others mild, but “it is important for each subject to be discussed – be it death, war or love”, according to Dudash, “If a film gives people something to think about, it is a success.”
LCCC has grown from a small rural-based college to a nationally recognized community college in front of Dudash’s eyes. He is familiar with every nook and corner and practice of the college, having started many of which himself.
Officially retired, Dudash continues to teach at LCCC on a part-time basis and runs the film series. According to him “students benefit most when they are shown a wider world-view, and that is possible most visibly through the cinematic lens.”