Guest blogger Max Keller shares his first thoughts about the Dodge College travel course bringing film studies majors to the heart of Italy.

Part 1 of 3.  (Skip to Part 2, Skip to Part 3)

I’ve always had this fascination with Italy.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved everything about the country: the food, the architecture, the women, the list goes on and on.  In my undergrad at UC Berkeley, I had to take three semesters of a language to graduate, so obviously I chose Italian.  That being said, I’ve always found my fascination with Italia a bit odd considering one crucial fact: I’ve never been to Italy.  My dad has gone every summer for the past five or so years, my mom has joined him for three of them, and last summer was supposed to be the family getaway.  This would be not only my first trip to Italy, but also my first trip to Europe and only my second time out of the U.S.  I was thrilled at the prospect of finally going to Italy, and then I got into Chapman and couldn’t go because our trip dates conflicted with the start of the semester.  If it weren’t for the fact that I was so excited to start grad school, I would’ve been crushed.  I left for Orange County the same week that my dad left to go cycling in Italy, and my mom and sister followed him two weeks later.  I got the occasional email saying how great the trip was and got photos from time to time as well.  As great a time as I was having at Chapman, I was still envious of my family.  Little did I know that it would be thanks to Chapman that I would finally get the chance to go to Italy 10 months later.

I was reading the Chapman Slate one Monday morning and noticed the posting about a travel study course to the Il Cinema Ritrovato (cinema rediscovered) film festival in Bologna being led by Professor Emily Carman.  I knew that there was no way I would be able to afford whatever the cost of the trip was (I am, after all, a broke college student), but I also knew that there was no harm in going to the info session.  I was sold on the trip as soon as Emily started talking about it, but then we discovered that it would cost $3000 per student and I was quickly brought back to reality.  I gave her my email address for her list of interested students and told her if it were cheaper, I’d be there in a heartbeat.  She told me she’d keep me in the loop about any new trip information.  I left and figured the trip would never cross my mind again.  About three weeks later, I woke up and noticed an email from Professor Carman with a subject saying that information about the trip had changed.  I read the email and my jaw dropped.  Someone had given a very generous donation to Dodge College and Dean Bassett had decided to use some of it to help further subsidize the trip.  The new cost: $500.  I literally ran to my checkbook, wrote a check, and drove to the cashier’s office.  I was the last student to be accepted to the class before it was locked out (the interest in the class skyrocketed after the decrease in price, and it became too much for the school to handle, so they locked the class until they could decide how best to determine who would go).  I couldn’t believe that I’d finally been given the chance to go to Italy.

It’s been three months or so since I gave that check to the cashier’s office.  A lot has happened in the mean time.  I’ve landed my dream internship at Warner Brothers, I’ve been offered a job for when I graduate next May, and my monthly repertory calendar that’s featured on this blog has really taken off, but nothing has been quite as exciting as the prospect of going to Italy.  I’m writing this blog post from my seat on a Lufthansa airplane on my way to Frankfurt, where we’ll go through customs and then hop another flight to Bologna.  It’s a nearly 14-hour travel day, but it will be worth it.  I’ll be exhausted once we reach Bologna, but I’ll be too excited about being in Italy to sleep.  The prospect of spending five days watching great movie after great movie is thrilling, and the fact that we have a free day to do whatever we please after the festival ends is only the icing on the cake.  I’ll be blogging each day of the festival attempting to give you both a taste of the films we’ll be seeing and our trip as a whole (you should also expect ridiculous amounts of food porn considering that Bologna is the food capital of Italy).  Check back to hear more about the festival itself (it’s rather unusual in the sense that we don’t see new movies, only older films that have recently been restored) and what we saw on day one.  Ciao from Italy!

-Max Keller, MFA Producing Student – Class of 2013

Continue to Part 2