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UW-Eau Claire Film Series
To Screen 'Elephant'


 MAILED:  Sept. 2, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will present eight screenings of "Elephant" (2003), Gus Van Sant's controversial film of how violence makes its way into a typical American high school, Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 9-12. The film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

Set in a Portland, Ore., high school, "Elephant" is a dreamlike and unsettling drama centered on average students who one day, without warning, commit acts of ultra-violence against their fellow classmates.

Eric Deulen and Alex Frost are two close friends living in a well-to-do Portland suburb. Eric and Alex are at once ordinary and misfits; while they seem to be confined to the edges of the clique-oriented social strata of high school, little about their behavior draws attention to them. But behind closed doors, the boys are fascinated by Nazi iconography, enjoy violent video games, explore homoerotic desires, and coolly begin to make plans for an armed ambush of their school.

"'Elephant" is the director's take on the murders that took place at Columbine High School," wrote Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times. "The title comes from the British director Alan Clarke's 1989 rough-and-ready short film of the same name, a tough and dense look at the violence in Northern Ireland, which also didn't paste answers onto the problem. Mr. Clarke's short outraged or absorbed viewers in the way that Mr. Van Sant's movie, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, is likely to do. (Mr. Clarke's title referred to the aphorism about the elephant in the living room that goes ignored — a problem that people refuse to face for so long that they are no longer even able to see it.)

"This new 'Elephant' will also confound people looking for solutions or villains, because it doesn't supply them," Mitchell wrote. "And by the end of the movie, we realize where much of the power and clarity of the film comes from. By making the camera an observer, we get a perspective that often comes out of horror movies, a choice that whips the ordinary with the terrifying, an unforgettable mix."

The 81-minute film is rated R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use — all involving teens.

Tickets are $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty/staff and $1 for UW-Eau Claire Students at the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727. The film is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire International Film Society.

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JS/NW

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Updated: September 2, 2004