Art Center College of Design’s film department selects Matthew Rolston to launch its Visiting Artist Program

For artists, success is arguably measured not just by the work one creates but by the influence of the artist himself. So it was indeed an honor when Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, invited photographer, filmmaker, and creative director Matthew Rolston to be the inaugural guest lecturer for the film department’s Visiting Artist Program.

Ross LaManna, chairman of the film department, personally extended the invitation to Rolston. “He’s so unique and brings a point of view that no one else has,” notes LaManna.

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Matthew Rolston_Art Center College of Design

Matthew Rolston at Art Center College of Design.

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LaManna asked Rolston to curate a number of enrichment events and lectures and to provide one-on-one critiques for a group of specially selected graduate film students. Other than those basic parameters, he essentially gave Rolston free rein in designing the weeklong program, which kicked off this past Monday and includes…

•    a lecture in the form of a “conversation” between Rolston and journalist Christina Binkley, Senior Fashion Critic, The Wall Street Journal, on the subject of the media phenomenon known as the “fashion film.” Numerous examples, personally curated by Rolston, will be screened and discussed.

•    a private visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition “Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s,” followed by a lecture by Britt Salvesen, LACMA’s Department Head and Curator of Photography, Prints, and Drawings. Organized by La Cinémathèque française, Paris, the exhibition features more than 150 drawings, as well as manuscripts, posters, and set models, the majority gathered by Lotte Eisner, a German emigrée film historian and author of the pioneering 1952 text The Haunted Screen. The exhibition was designed by Amy Murphy and Michael Maltzan with Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc.

•     a screening of Federico Fellini’s postwar masterpiece La Dolce Vita, followed by a discussion about the film between Rolston and Matt Tyrnauer, journalist and special correspondent to Vanity Fair and director of the landmark fashion film Valentino: The Last Emperor.

•    a screening of Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award–winning film La grande bellezza, followed by Rolston interviewing film critic, journalist, and author F.X. Feeney on the close relationship between the two films.

“I chose these pictures because of their intimate relation to each other,” Rolston explains. “Clearly, Fellini’s influential film was ‘commented’ on by Sorrentino’s film. It’s important for students to understand that all art is part of a continuum. It’s also interesting to note that both films take place in Rome and follow the exploits of highly placed journalists in the worlds of arts, fashion, and culture.

“That’s why I asked Matt Tyrnauer, also a highly placed journalist in those worlds, and someone who has spent quite a bit of time in Rome—two to three years making the Valentino documentary alone—to provide commentary.”

Rolston’s commitment to supporting Art Center College of Design runs deep. An alumnus of the school, Rolston nearly 20 years ago established a scholarship for promising students in need of financial assistance, and for the past decade he has also provided mentorship as part of the Matthew Rolston Scholarship for Film and Photography.

“Eighteen years ago, I could see that photography and film were going to meld,” Rolston explains. “At the time, the college had a photo department and a film department, and they were completely separate. My scholarship specifically supports students who are pursuing both disciplines.”

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