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MSU Cinema International Presents 1976 Film "Network" This Week

Murray State's Cinema International presents the 1976 film Network this Thursday and Saturday. Austin Carter speaks to program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul and political science professor Dr. Kevin Elliot about the prophetic nature and parallels of today seen in the film ahead of the screenings.

From the MSU Cinema International website:

"In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks' nightly news programming, and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, the network fires Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, who has lost his once-strong ratings share.

He reacts in an unexpected way...a trenchant satire of 'trash TV,' Network seems to grow more relevant with each passing year. Network won Oscars for Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay as well as three of four acting categories: Faye Dunaway for Best Actress, Peter Finch for Best Actor, and Beatrice Straight for Best Supporting Actress."

"In many ways, it is the prototypical film of the '70s," Elliot begins. "The film depicts the interplay of media and capitalism and corporate power in a way that will become much more familiar in years to come. So, you have these characters that remember the Golden Age of television; they are coming to remember that age as things are changing in their industry."

"They're seeing a rise of a more metric- and ratings-driven television as a kind of betrayal of the promise of television," Elliot continues. "Some of the characters in the film are pursuing a new media approach, which, again, will strike us as very familiar. Part of the prophetic quality of the film is in seeing what the unfolding changes in media as a business are going to create in years to come."

Network poses an important question: what should the news do? "This is one of the central questions to the film," Elliot explains. "The Golden Age of television is not perfect. But there was a sense of mission to some of this journalism. The film uses a great deal of absolutely authentic language that would be used in the newsrooms at the time."

Network presents two possible answers to the previous question: "Should it be informing the people?" Elliot says. "Or should it be chasing the ratings? That is what plays out in the film. What would it look like for the news to chase ratings? Some of this is going to look familiar to us today."

MSU Cinema International presents Network on Thursday, September 22nd, in the Barkley Room and Saturday, September 24th, in the Curris Center Theater. Both screenings start at 7:30 pm and are on the third floor of the Curris Center. Screenings are free and open to the public.

For more information on the MSU Cinema International program, including upcoming screenings and how to donate, visit its website.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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