'Projection' links film to psychology

Film series looks to combine psychology with cinema

By CeNique Yeldell | 1/22/14 12:16am

Grand Valley State University’s “Projection: The film series” unites psychology and cinema with its selection of classic movies, which are not only critically acclaimed but also probe the minds of their viewers.

“The promise of us challenging or outright blowing your mind is what will make you want to come to this series,” said psychology professor Todd Williams, co-host of the series. “There are very few legal things that you can do that are better than this. Plus, it is free.”

The series was created in 2007 by Brian Bowdle, a professor of GVSU’s psychology department. One of the goals was to offer students the chance to see a number of inventive and thought-provoking films that might otherwise not be on their radar. The screenings of the films this semester began Jan. 15 and will continue to show on Wednesdays in room 114 of Lake Michigan Hall until April 16.

Williams said that this series provides a forum for people who like to be challenged with new ideas and meet others from a range of different background and disciplines, and this type of experience is what a liberal arts education is about.

The movies that will be featured this winter will cover topics such as spirituality, prejudice, sexuality and psychopathology.

“We aim to hit on as many of these areas as possible each term by selecting a variety of films showing various aspects of the human condition,” Bowdle said. “In the process, we hope to illustrate how psychological science can be used to better understand our lives.”

Bowdle added that he wanted to distinguish this series from some of the psychology film series he has seen at other universities, which typically focus on clinical issues. While including that focus area, movies are selected that also cover cultural, cognitive and developmental psychology.

Before each film is shown, there is an introduction that explains its cultural and historical context, as well as the psychological themes. After, there is an open discussion about the movie and the reactions of audience members.

Brian Bieganski, a student majoring in psychology, first attended a film session last year when one of his night classes was canceled. What drew him to the series were these open discussions after the films.

“Students can learn much from going to the Projection series,” Bieganski said. “Whether it’s something about a particular mental disorder or a certain relationship between people, or even how a film was produced or the original idea that inspired it, there is much that everyone, not just psychology or film majors, can learn.”

Everyone is allowed to express their opinions or ideas without judgment, and there isn’t the reluctance or pressure that sometimes exists in a classroom setting, he said. There is also a concession stand run by Psi Chi that offers different snacks and beverages, and the proceeds go to charity.

For more information, visit the GVSU Projection Film Series’ Facebook page for movie trailers and other information about the series.

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