Introduction to Film students were issued SteelStacks Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas film passes for the entire spring term, granting them exposure to featured film screenings and entertainment spotlights in the community.
Formerly the home of the Bethlehem Steel Mill, SteelStacks is now a flourishing center for music and art, which seeks to unite its local residents. In order to keep the famous structure alive, a partnership with ArtsQuest, a nonprofit art and education organization, was formed followed by donations from local businesses and other organizations in Bethlehem.
In an email, English professor Michael Kramp explained the opportunity that his students have been presented with this semester.
“In my course, Introduction to Film, students are offered the opportunity to see films at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema,” Kramp wrote. “They then create short video blogs that the cinema uses as part of the preview credits that it shows prior to film screenings.”
The video blogs are a key assignment in the class and assure that the students will be able to take full advantage of these passes for the whole semester.
Kramp serves on the cinema committee and has worked hard to advance film studies at Lehigh. In order to make this opportunity possible, he connected with ArtsQuest about his objective and received a grant from the Lehigh University Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative for course development support.
“We felt that there’s not an art house theater in the country that doesn’t struggle with getting people of college age into their theaters, so we felt like the partnership did something for us and for Lehigh,” said Ryan Hill, the programming director of ArtsQuest. “We just thought it made a lot of sense.”
The Alehouse Cinema is currently showing Oscar-nominated shorts, as well as several Best Picture nominees.
“We do stuff that’s a little bit different,” Hill said, regarding ArtsQuest’s shift away from other traditional cinemas. “We have late-night screenings, horror screenings, screenings where you can make fun of a bad movie.”
Hill said that the goal is to have screenings that are fun and attract a younger demographic, and wants to ensure that Lehigh students are aware of these opportunities.
The passes give access to most film screenings and the students are welcome to bring a friend along with them. The only restrictions to the passes are specified movies and time restrictions on Friday and Saturday 5 – 9 p.m.
“I am really looking forward to seeing a wide variety of films,” said Jarrod Howard, ’17, a student in the Introduction to Film class. “The Alehouse offers big-time films like ‘The Revenant’ but also films that are more artsy and less well-known.”
In an email, Kramp talked about the cinema bringing a new experience and a better understanding of the film industry.
“I think the opportunity introduces the students to a great local community arts establishment,” Kramp said. “The grant also allows us to connect students with movie viewers in their community and ultimately allows students to develop their skills as film reviewers and filmmakers.”