Once, in those halcyon days of the '70s, before the advent of video, college film series flourished. St. Louis University's Jim Rollins programmed a smart, innovative selection of local premieres and revivals, and anonymous Washington University film buffs unspooled complete retrospectives of Charlie Chaplin and an ambitious series of double bills that exhaustively surveyed such genres as film noir
and screwball comedy. But by the '80s, Webster University was left with the field largely to itself, with others only occasionally dabbling in programs intended to reach beyond the student body. Until last year, that is, when Fontbonne College (Fontbonne Library, 6800 Wydown Blvd., 314-719-8061) unveiled the first of a promising series of retrospectives programmed by assistant professor Patricia Brooke and partner John Hodge (a sometime contributor to the RFT
). After an auspicious debut with the eight-program series Stranger Than Fiction: Documentary America
in fall 1999, Fontbonne is now in the midst of Shadow and Light
, a half-dozen films exploring the nature of faith that include such seldom-seen masterworks as Luis Buuel's Viridiana
(Oct. 3) and Roberto Rossellini's The Messiah
(Oct. 17). More ambitious still, beginning in January, Brooke and Hodge will offer a rare look at the work of Japanese cult director Seijun Suzuki with a seven-movie series. Fontbonne earns an A for its first efforts in film studies.