Academy Award nominated director to visit Baylor for movie screening, lecture

By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

Academy Award-nominated director Whit Stillman will visit Baylor for the Albaugh Lecture and a screening of his 1989 film “Metropolitan.”

The Albaugh lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. A screening of “Metropolitan” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday in 101 Castellaw, and students will be able to ask Stillman questions following the screening.

Dr. Michael Foley, professor in the great texts department of the Honors College, said he asked Stillman to talk about his art and the ideas behind it. Foley discovered Stillman’s films in college and became a fan of his work. Foley said he was struck by Stillman’s ability to address important issues with a light tone.

“He combines a sense of charm and wit with really serious and important topics that have to do with how to live one’s life well,” Foley said.

Stillman wrote in an email to the Lariat that he hopes his lecture, mysteriously titled “The High-Low Manifesto – & The Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” will not be “too bad a fiasco.”

“I think there’s a way of looking at our culture that is at once sharply limiting and yet ultimately freeing for those engaged in intellectual and creative pursuits,” Stillman wrote. “ Manifestos are fun, the notion of the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ has always fascinated me – Pestilence, War, Famine and Death. What are the equivalent forces in our culture?”

Foley said this lecture is for students of all majors because Stillman’s films are for everyone.

Stillman began his career as a journalist in Manhattan and said working for a publication is the best type of training for an aspiring journalist. Stillman preferred editing to writing and said that his experience working as the night editor of his college daily newspaper best prepared him to be a director.

“We had to take responsibility and put everything together with our many collaborators in a limited period of time,” he wrote.

Chris Hansen, Baylor professor and chair of the film and digital media department, said Stillman is a director that has persevered through massive changes to the film industry. Hansen also said Stillman’s perspective on the changes to the industry over the years could be very valuable for students. Stillman’s films, along with those of other directors, helped create a revolution in the film industry that inspired people to make more independent, personal films, Hansen said.

“It was a period of time when true indie cinema really started changing how we look at film,” Hansen said.

Stillman wrote that a sense of story and a disposition toward entertaining are more important for aspiring directors than “playing with cameras.”

“I think a general rather than a technical education is to [be] preferred. Literature, history, journalism, theater and, actually, stand up comedy and improv are excellent backgrounds – or a combination of as many of those as possible,” he wrote.

The lecture is sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa and the film screening is co-sponsored by the film and digital media department.