‘A Century in Cinema’ is a Picture Perfect Podcast

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(A Century in Cinema Cover Image | Courtesy Arthur Veenema)

By Paige Gardner , Assistant Arts Editor

 

The popularity of podcasts has grown steadily over the last few years with more listeners than ever in 2020. Millions of people began tuning in to podcasts last year as many new podcasts emerged. One of these podcasts, “A Century in Cinema,” hosted by Arthur Veenema and Andrew Slaughter, aims to explore 100 years of filmmaking starting in the year 1920. 

Veenema, a University of Utah alum, and Slaughter are professionals in the local film industry, using this podcast to dissect one film per episode through a historical and cultural lens. They choose films from all over the world that have shaped the film industry and pop culture.

A Short Jump Between Then and Now  

In the first episode, Veenema describes his motivations in producing the podcast. In regards to the films they discuss, Veenema said they need to be “relevant to film history or interesting within the context of that time period.” He continued, “I wanted to try and follow history through film and put myself in the shoes of different audiences moving through time and I wanted to learn more about the progression of filmmaking.”

This is the perfect mission statement for a podcast that covers 100 of the most innovative, landmark achievements and developments in film history. Beginning with the year 1920 is a great jumping-off point for diving into film history, as this was a time when many new techniques were being pioneered and the industry was revolutionized.

Film History and History in Films 

We are nearing the end of the first year of the pandemic. It’s been a chaotic year — to say the least. A vital part of this podcast is discussing history, and the exploration of that in relation to the events of this year proves for an incredibly interesting analysis of film through the years. It’s easy to get a sense of the immensely complex context of each of the films as you listen to the episodes.

The first film they discuss is the 1920’s “Within our Gates.” This film was released shortly after “The Birth of a Nation” was shown to audiences across the United States. Veenema and Slaughter carefully unpack a complicated comparison of these two films — “Within our Gates” was directed by Oscar Micheaux, a Black, independent filmmaker, whereas “The Birth of a Nation” was a three-hour film tribute to the Ku Klux Klan.

In the first episode and each one following, Veenema and Slaughter do an excellent job of explaining complicated narratives and what they mean for filmmaking in our time.

A Challenging Year for Podcasts 

Podcast hosts and producers have become quite familiar with the complications COVID-19 adds to making a podcast. “A Century in Cinema” has not been immune to these challenges and has found ways to adapt. Work has slowed in filmmaking over the last year due to the pandemic, but Veenema and Slaughter have used the podcast as a way to stay connected to film. Though the hosts are recorded separately, it is truly impossible to tell that they aren’t right next to each other. 

In looking back on what a year 2020 was and the year 2021 is already proving to be, you’re probably in need of a good podcast to get you through. “A Century in Cinema” not only provides much-needed relief from the woes of today, but it also helps us understand more about our times through film history.

“A Century in Cinema” can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other major podcast platforms.

 

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