We pulled into the quiet small town of Roanoke, cut in half by a freight railway and augmented by a “freaky-looking, Frank Gehry-bootleg” museum. Little did I know this was the building I’d be showing Runaway. I’m driven to Roanoke College by Wendy where I meet Professor Srikanth Mallavarapu and talked with his film studies class. I started to talk about my experiences, the usual spiel, but as the class started to warm up, they became much more engaged. We started to delve into more interesting topics like realism vs. surrealism, relatability of characters, Christian Bale’s role in American Psycho and how to spend film school tuition in a better way…By the end I felt like I was able to really connecting with the class. Several of them joined us for lunch afterwards. It was great to see eager students hungry to be part of the film world.
I went back to the hotel and took a much-needed nap. I woke up and waited 20 minutes for the longest freight in the world to pass by then headed into downtown Roanoke towards the Taubman Museum. I entered into the most modern style theater I’ve seen. The room itself looked like an art piece. I was happy to find a handful of Bengalis (maybe all the ones in town) show up as well. Made me realize Bengalis really populated every corner of the world. Maybe my Antarctica release might just work out…But I was even more astonished to see a handful of the students from Sri’s class show up. I know how hard it is to push college kids outta of their dorms, away from their Call of Duty and kegstands, but the allure of the movies is still alive in Roanoke. We had another intimate Q&A afterwards where I talked with the students. After a day of talking about other movies, we dissected my film. Wow, Runaway has made into the syllabus of Roanoke’s cinema studies!
The Bengali audience was also very pleased to see a movie in their native tongue, which is all too rare in the small towns, even though some of them were expecting another Bengali film titled Runway (as in airport runway) by the late Tareq Masud. I like to think they were pleasantly surprised by the confusion…
Post by Amit Ashraf, OSIP Touring Filmmaker