As the Columbia arts scene gets into the swing of the new year, the Nickelodeon Theatre has plans to continue pushing Columbia towards a state of social awareness and to cultivate an environment for film appreciation.
While many of the recurring film series that we are familiar with will continue to run at the Nick, some new series are also being implemented. Silver Screen Studies — kicking off with "West Side Story" on Jan. 21 — will be the first new series launch of 2018, and intends to bring classic movies to the Nick, accompanied by talks lead by film experts.
Pauline Arroyo, the Nick’s marketing coordinator, said that the theater also plans to show films on their screens told from African American points of view in a series that will run throughout February called Black Stories. This will be the series' second year at the Nick and will be centered around the theme “Two Cities.”
“The idea with Two Cities — especially in the context of Black Stories — is to celebrate and listen to, give a platform to, black filmmakers and artists. Kind of get those different voices and perspectives,” Arroyo said.
This theme also will also tie into Indie Grits, a film festival hosted by the Nickelodeon in April. Described by the Columbia Film Society as “an annual pilgrimage for independent artists in search of community,” the festival is open to filmmakers who are connected to the South but typically falls around some kind of central theme. Last year’s festival was dubbed “Visiones,” which highlighted filmmakers and stories from the Latinx community.
“We’ll also have artists and filmmakers having projects going on during the festival — and during the year, actually — that are going to focus on how Columbia is sometimes divided into two cities,” Arroyo said. “... And talk about why are those divides are there, what divides those communities and just finding commonalities.”
Arroyo said The Nick is also looking forward to bringing back some already-established series such as Foreign Focus, Sound and Vision and For the Record, which have been relatively well-received in the community.
Though the Nick is well-known in Columbia for its mission of arts education promotion and dialogue facilitation, they will also bring some lighter films this semester. This includes "When Harry Met Sally" for Valentine's Day, as well as some movies that appeal to a college-aged audience in a more conventional light — like the rock/comedy documentary "Mistaken For Strangers" and "Bring it On," which will show as a Staff Pick in February.
Yet, even with films that are not so obviously be threaded with darker themes, the Nick is finding ways to draw attention to social issues.
“It’s definitely a fun film,” Arroyo said of "Bring it On." “... But it also actually has some interesting overtones or undertones of cultural appropriation.”
As the Nickelodeon’s series and events calendar falls into its stride over the next few months, Arroyo acknowledges how stacked with events the theater will be.
“I think just every year we try to pack in more and more programs, and it just starts gets busier and busier,” Arroyo said. “But it’s exciting, definitely.”