High School Offers History of Film Course

High School Offers History of Film Course
Posted on 03/15/2024
High School Offers History of Film CourseNew History of Cinema Course
Noah Shin
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Ms. Leitzell will teach History of Cinema starting the 2024-2025 school year

The Cumberland Valley School Board approved nine new courses to start next fall in the 2024-2025 school year, including courses in Social Studies, English, Science, and Math. One of the new courses is History of Cinema, which will be taught by Natalie Leitzell.

CV has previously offered other film courses: IB Film I and II, Advanced Film, and Digital Film. The IB Film courses, housed in the art department and taught by Robert Bomboy, focused on a mix of film production, theory, criticism, and history. They were discontinued when the IB program was removed and Digital Film was available until last year.

The new course, History of Cinema, is a history course offered through the social studies department and it will cover the full history of film from the past 150 years, starting in the 19th century and ending in the present. It will mainly cover US cinema but will also include developments in global cinema. It will focus on the effect of cultural values and technological advancements on the artform as well as the influence of film on technological innovation and change. Unlike the previous films courses offered through the art department, the new course will not have any aspects of production. It will be a single semester class, and is expected to be offered in both fall and spring semesters if enrollment allows.

The course was developed by Leitzell, who has been teaching at CV for 16 years and is the current AP Human Geography and Contemporary Global Issues teacher and the junior varsity field hockey coach. The new courses, including the new film course, were largely proposed by teachers based on areas of their own interests when the district issued a call for new course proposals.

“The new courses were simply the result of suggestions by your teachers, largely linked to their own, individual interests and passions,” Leitzell said.

The district's Director of Curriculum, Deana Raymer, said there were a variety of criteria for selecting new courses including state requirements for graduation.

“However, for electives, we often listen to student and teacher voice. Some of the courses that were approved to be added for next school year were a direct result of students asking for more courses in a particular area, such as writing or film,” Raymer said.

When asked why she wanted to teach this particular course, Leitzell said, “I love movies. For the longest time, my ‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’ answer was, ‘I’d open up my own movie theater and have educational sessions/discussions before and after showing some of the best movies from throughout the history of cinema.’ So, I naturally proposed The History of Cinema as a potential new course last year. Seeing this course come into being is sort of a teacher-dream come true for me.”

Leitzell’s favorite movies “in order of magnificence” are: Jurassic Park, , The Dark Knight, Titanic, Braveheart. Her favorite directors include: Geta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino.

The current Cumberland Valley Film Club Vice President, Carter McClellan, gave a student leader’s perspective on the benefits of adding the new film course. “I’d say I’m very supportive of their adding it. I think that there's a lot to be gained from analyzing film the same way there is from analyzing literature. Film movements have often represented societal beliefs or frustrations of a time, so understanding the History of Cinema provides relevant insight into historical time periods. As film continues to play a larger and larger role in our culture and entertainment, understanding the History of Cinema will allow viewers to take away more from the art.”

When asked what she was most looking forward to for the new course, Leitzell says, “It is the same thing to which I look forward in all of my classes: guiding students to an ‘AHA’ moment during which they learn or realize something about their world that they never knew before. It’s the coolest part of this job.”

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