CBU Professor off to Sundance

Dr. Ruby Ramji to take part in international film festival

A Cape Breton University professor will soon be heading back to the bright lights of the Sundance Film Festival.

Dr. Ruby Ramji, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Cape Breton University will review films at the festival held annually in Park City, Utah. The festival begins this year on Thursday, January 20 and runs until January 30th. The Festival is known for screening films that pursue self-exploration, push boundaries and take the un-trodden path.

Ruby is attending the Sundance Film Festival through the Journal of Religion and Film. She was nominated and invited to fill the position of Film Editor for the Journal in September 2007. In 2008 the senior editor invited her to attend the Festival as a Press Member. The Journal is considered an Industry member of the Festival.

“We conceive of religion very broadly, so we might consider a movie that we think shows a battle between good and evil,” she says. “The thing about independent movies is that they cover a much wider spectrum of ideas than conventional Hollywood movies because they are not made for profit.

Ruby will be writing reviews on the religious perspective of about 20 of the 200 films (out of 3,800 submissions from around the world) to be screened during the 10-day film festival, while attending in-depth discussions and panels on the technical details of filmmaking. The Sundance Film Festival screens some of the best independent films from around the world. Ruby believes movies important cultural texts that enforce, reinforce and in rarer circumstances, challenge cultural norms.

“People are unaware of how much of what they are watching is scripted – from the tiniest elements in the movie, to the storylines, biases, racisms, stereotypes etc.,” says Ruby, who has been invited to attend Sundance for the past two years as well. “I truly believe that we need to become more critical consumers of media culture, and we need to understand not just how we can be manipulated by film media, but by how film media can facilitate understanding and compassion.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival has a hard time defining the festival. “It is all at once exciting, fun, crazy, engaging, visceral, and sometimes even painful. We can explain storylines, we can share what we know of each artist's unique journey, but ultimately what we will experience for 10 days in January is different for each of us. And that's what makes Sundance so magical." A special focus of the 2011 film line-up promises to showcase a diverse mix of films that highlight musicians in many different mediums.