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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

41-year-old university film series offers free showings of profound, artistic films

Sarah Pike, Director of the University Film Series. Photo credit: Ashiah Scharaga

The University Film Series, presented by the Humanities Center at Chico State, has had over a 40 year history on campus. Films, corresponding to the center’s theme for the academic year, are shown at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday in Little Theatre, room 106 of Ayres Hall.

The Orion sat down with Sarah Pike, director of the Humanities Center and University Film Series, to discuss how films are chosen and why the series is such an important addition to Chico State.

The Orion: When was the film series created?

Sarah Pike:
I am pretty sure the University Film Series was started around 1973 by David Overby. So it has been around on and off for over 40 years.

The Orion: How do you choose which films are shown?

Pike: Every year the Humanities Center has a theme. So this year, our theme is Translation. Last year our theme was Revolutions and the year before it was China and the West. So we pick these sort of big, overarching themes and then we usually get films that have some connection to those. I look for films, I ask my board if they have recommendations, and then I have a small group of faculty that help with the film series, that introduce films, and they recommend films that they would like to show.

The Orion: Why would you say this film series is an important thing to have on campus?


Pike: Because we show foreign films and some art films that students wouldn’t otherwise see, I think that can be an important part of their education. That, y’know, you might not be able to take a film class; we don’t even offer very many film classes. But here’s an opportunity that students can really be introduced to some famous, important films that they wouldn’t otherwise see.

The Orion: What is the goal of the University Film Series or the purpose behind showing these films?

Pike: People often ask me, “Why do you keep the film series going? I mean people can just rent the film on Netflix.” I think that there’s a few reasons. One is that we have these faculty introductions, so the faculty member then, for students, can put it in a context. And so the students are going to get that sort of specialty from the professor. I think we offer something special that way. Plus, you get to see it on a big screen. It’s a nice theater. Even if you have a big screen TV, it’s not the same experience as sitting with other people and watching a film on a big screen.

The Orion: What’s your favorite part about the film series?

Pike: There are so many nights when I go home afterwards and I just think, and maybe there were ten people at the film or maybe there were more, and I think, “Everyone should have seen this film, this was like an amazing film.” I just have this profound experience and it’s just not like watching a film at home. I mean you see this work of art and it makes you think about the world differently. So I’ve had that experience quite a bit.


The Orion: Is there anything you would like to add?

Pike: We really want students to come to the film series. And that’s why we don’t want them to feel like they have to pay. There’s a donation box; it’s fine if you want to give fifty cents, but you don’t have to give anything. We just want you to be there.

The next film in the series is “Changing Lanes,” featuring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. The film will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on April 22, in Little Theatre, room 106 of Ayres Hall.

For a schedule of the rest of the semester’s films, please visit

Ashiah Scharaga can be reached at [email protected] or @AshiahD on Twitter.

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