Big screen sans the big bucks

For a thrifty college student, a night out at the movies is probably far-fetched. But who would pass on the opportunity to watch a free blockbuster that’s just a few minutes’ walk away?

While tickets are $5 some days for UM students at the new Coconut Grove Paragon Theatre or $10 at Sunset Place’s AMC Theatres, UM’s Cosford Cinema offers movies for free. The Cinematic Arts Commission (CAC) and the School of Communication offer movies at convenient hours, as well as the ability to catch a big-screen flick in your pajamas.

CAC is a committee within Hurricane Productions, UM’s student-run entertainment programming organization, that offers recently released films and pre-screenings for students, faculty and the Coral Gables community.

On Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, CAC shows recent releases and advanced screenings for some movies before they hit commercial theaters.

“We are most concerned with providing movies we think the largest amount of people would come to see,” said senior Derek Stuckert, the chair of CAC.

Last year, CAC showed “Toy Story 3,” “Inception,” “The Social Network” and “Black Swan,” among others.

Students outside the CAC can have influence in choosing films to be screened by attending the committee’s meetings. By participating in the voting of movie choices, students can help bring films to campus that may interest a larger population.

“UM administrators don’t have a say really in what is shown; the decision is left up to students,” Stuckert said. “CAC is for the students and by the students.”

The School of Communication, however, offers a different caliber of films. It screens independent and foreign films at Cosford, including acclaimed movies featured on the “Best of the Year” movies lists released by top film critics locally and around the country. These are films often praised at the Independent Spirit Awards, The Sundance Film Festival and Cannes International Film Festival.

“The School of Communication is exposing students to films that they wouldn’t be able to see at their local megaplex,” said Blyth Daylong, assistant dean for operations and scheduling for the School of Communication. “These are films about thought-provoking topics you can’t see anywhere else or films from first-time filmmakers, the kinds of movies that our students will make when they begin their careers.”

Recently, the School of Communication screened such movies as “In a Better World,” the winner of the 2011 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, “Tiny Furniture,” the winner of Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, and “The Human Centipede.”

The movies are shown at the 250-seat Cosford Cinema, located on the second floor of the Memorial building, a section of campus most students pass by more than once a week. Large graphic posters of upcoming movies are showcased on the first floor beneath the theater.

Student admission is free with Cane Card. Ticket prices vary for the general public, other UM community members and special screenings like operas, ballets or recent blockbusters. See for more information.