February 21 WorldCanvass explores “A Century of Film in the Public Sphere”

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Stephen Maing will join WorldCanvass host Joan Kjaer and a panel of expert guests at 5 p.m., February 21, in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber to discuss the evolution of film over the last hundred years, both as a vehicle for imaginative storytelling and a genre for commentary, the promotion of social action, and cultural critique. The event is free and open to the public.

With the ability to touch a single heart or evoke massive collective reactions, films have a special place in the public sphere.   They both mirror and influence cultural and artistic movements as well as societal and personal behaviors, often giving focus to public reflection, challenging accepted norms, interpreting history, imagining the future, and even manipulating public sentiment.

Faculty and students from the UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature will discuss this ever-evolving creative genre from early motion pictures to video, to the rebirth of documentaries, to the use of digital media, and now social media.  We’ll also hear from two young filmmakers, MFA candidates at the UI, about the passions that drive their art.  And filmmaker Stephen Maing will give us insight into his recent project “High Tech, Low Life” and talk with Lisa Weaver, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Wenfang Tang, a professor in the UI Department of Political Science, about film’s ability to challenge the status quo and confront power.

Maing, a New York-based filmmaker and artist, will be in Iowa City as a guest of the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature (CLAS).  There will be a free screening of his film “High Tech, Low Life” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 20, in Shambaugh Auditorium.  He is a fellow of the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and a grant recipient of the MacArthur Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, and the Independent Television Service. "High Tech, Low Life," filmed in China, Taiwan, Romania, and Germany, was produced over five years and received Best Documentary awards at the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Little Rock Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Woods Hole Film Festival. Most recently, Maing was awarded a 2013 Grierson Award, one of the U.K.'s highest documentary honors in the category Best Newcomer Documentary.

Read a commentary by Steve Ungar about this topic

WorldCanvass guests and topics are:

The evolution of film: an overview

Steven Ungar, professor and head of film studies, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature; Steve Choe, assistant professor, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature

Filmmaking and the public

Julia Haslett, visiting associate professor and head of film and video production, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature; Jesse McLean, assistant professor, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature

The next generation of filmmakers

Remington Smith, MFA candidate, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature; Jesse Kreitzer, MFA candidate, UI Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature

Challenging the status quo: from film to social media (featuring award-winning filmmaker Stephen Maing)

Stephen Maing, filmmaker and director of “High Tech, Low Life”; Lisa Weaver, lecturer, UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Wenfang Tang, professor and head of undergraduate studies, UI Department of Political Science

WorldCanvass brings together faculty, scholars, students, and community experts to engage in rich, intimate, interdisciplinary conversations on a variety of subjects. The program is produced by International Programs in partnership with the Pentacrest Museums, UITV, and KRUI radio.

UITV distributes the televised series and WorldCanvass is available online at the Public Radio Exchange and as an iTunes podcast.

For more information, visit the WorldCanvass Web page. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend this eve, contact Joan Kjaer in advance at joan-kjaer@uiowa.edu or at 319-335-2026.