Ballard Center hosts ninth annual Peery Film Festival

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Peery Film Festival posters outside of the Wilkinson Student Center. The festival is on the BYU campus for its ninth consecutive year, with showings Nov. 6-16. (Hannah Miner)

The Peery Film Festival brought 10 films to campus — the largest number of films to be screened on campus at one time throughout the festival’s nine years. The films are being screened until Nov. 16.

The festival is hosted by BYU’s Ballard Center in hopes of presenting social issues and solutions to viewers. The films have varying subject matters, including everything from medical issues and farming to more sensitive topics like sexual assault and refugees.

Ballard Center event manager Rose Palmer said the Peery Film Festival has already brought a great deal of good to students. Palmer and her team of students worked over the summer to hand-pick movies to show at the festival.

“The idea is we were looking for social films that talked about a social issue that would be interesting to students all across campus,” Palmer said, adding that there is something for everyone at the festival.

Palmer watched approximately 50 films to find the ones that would best fit the diverse issues Ballard Center officials wanted to address.

“I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about the selection of films that we have,” Palmer said.

The Ballard Center also brought a petting zoo outside the Wilkinson Student Center to help promote the film “The Biggest Little Farm.” The petting zoo brought the film’s innocence and joy to students walking to and from classes who got to hold baby rabbits, goats and pigs.

BYU student Ashley Pasley holds one of many guinea pigs brought to BYU’s campus on Wednesday, Nov. 6. (Hannah Miner)

Palmer said activities like the petting zoo help build students’ trust and increase their curiosity about the films.

She said the main goal in bringing the films to campus is not just to promote the films but to help students from diverse backgrounds understand real issues occurring all around the world as well as what students can do to be a part of the solution.

“(The Ballard Center) teaches students how to solve social problems, how to make an impact on our lives and that’s why we show these films,” Palmer said.

Jennica Collette, who works with Palmer, has been with the Ballard Center for the last three years. Her involvement with the previous festivals was positive and she expressed a great deal of excitement for this year’s film festival.

“Peery Film Festival raises the awareness about issues that are going on that some might not even know about,” Collette said.

Collette, who is minoring in social innovation, said events like the film festival help her expand her knowledge on issues she doesn’t fully understand.

Collette added that a big benefit of the festival is that students can find a film that interests them or applies to their particular major.

“The Perry Film Festival is like this double edge activity where it raises awareness about the social problems themselves, which is one of the center’s goals, but then also correlates with the Ballard Center so people who may not have any idea can get involved,” she said.

BYU student Cason Curriden, a Ballard Center employee, uses his involvement with the center to express his passion for helping others.

Emelie Madhavian hugs Ballard Center event manager Rose Palmer at the screening of “Midnight Traveler” on Wednesday, Nov. 6. (Wesley Jones)

“The goal of the Ballard Center is to help people connect their passion and what brings them joy with the needs of the world,” he said.

Curriden said he attended the film festival his freshmen year at BYU but was unaware it was sponsored by the Ballard Center. He said the center is doing a much better job promoting their involvement with the film festival now.

Although he hasn’t attended any of the screenings yet, Curriden plans on attending at least some of the film screenings.

“What’s inspiring about these films is that it’s everyday people that are inspired to make a difference that go out and try and do it and end up having a great impact,” Curriden said.

The Ballard Center has been helping students like Curriden find practical ways to make a difference in issues they are passionate about since its conception in 2003.

Alicia Gettys, the Ballard Center’s director of communications and operations, noted a sizable increase in the number of students who have shown interest in the center from last year to this year.

Last year, the Peery Film Festival recorded over 4700 students registering for the event, doubling the number of students the year prior.  

Verle Bybee’s green 1964 Dodge Dart Convertible sits outside the Wilkinson Student Center to help promote the film “Green Book” on Monday, Nov. 4. (Alex Bybee)

Gettys said many students have had awakenings to social problems through different experiences in their lives and events like the film festival help create a space where the problems are talked about along with potential solutions.

“There’s a lot of things students can do,” Gettys said.

Gettys acknowledged the film festival as a major contributing factor in helping bring more attention to the Ballard Center and its resources.

She said her favorite part of the film festival has been the passion of the students dedicated to putting the various events together throughout the week.

The Ballard Center is the largest campus-based, social-impact organizations in the world and hopes to continue events like the Peery Film Festival to shed light on various issues and teach students how to make a difference Students can view screening times, make reservations and find out more about the event on the Marriot School of Business’s website.

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