UT's English department hosted the first Surrealist Symposium this weekend.
The series of events, which started on Friday and concludes Monday evening, include discussions, poetry readings, art displays and a Surrealist Film Fest. Screenings for the film festival took place in the Hodges Library auditorium
The festival was coordinated by Richard Hermes of the Department of English and Nathan Smith, freshman in cinema studies.
Smith said he was approached last semester because of his knowledge of films and his previous experience hosting screenings.
"There were some films we were asked specifically to screen, ones that the department felt it was necessary to show. Others, we got to pick out," Smith said. "We wanted a good range of surrealist movies. Ones that make you think."
The surrealism movement is about unleashing a person's subconscious, Smith said, and crossing what they know as dreams with what they see as reality and realizing what occurs when a person thinks without control or reason.
"It's expressing through art what we don't think about in our conscious state," Smith added.
Smith said the movie he was most excited for is a Japanese film, "Symbol," that's not easily available in the U.S.
"In the movie, a man wakes up in a white room in green pajamas," Smith said, "So he tries to figure out why he is in there and how he can get out. It makes you think. It's a bizarre film, but it impacts you really deeply."
During Saturday's screenings, three films were shown – a Czech nightmarish version of Alice in Wonderland called "Alice," an animated Japanese short film entitled "Cat Soup," and the 2008 Philip Seymour Hoffman film "Synecdoche, NY."
Margaret Easterly, sophomore in communications, attended Saturday's event after she heard about the film festival in an art class.
"I've studied the Surrealist movement in art classes before," Easterly said. "I've seen the concepts take place in paintings and sculptures that I've learned about, but I don't think I've seen a movie with those ideas in it"
The final movie in Saturday's lineup, "Synedoche, NY" was the one that Easterly said "really hit her."
"From the beginning, the movie was different than any other box office movie I've seen," she said. "It was very odd and I felt kind of antsy during a lot of it and I can't explain why. But then all of the sudden, it made me incredibly sad but not in the way I would've thought."
"Movies like these resonate with you on an emotional level," Smith added. "Surrealism is all about what we don't think about usually. It can be uncomfortable for some people but if you come at it with an open mind, it may not make complete sense but it can still help us understand."
Although the film festival portion of the symposium finished on Sunday, events for Monday include the keynote presentation on why surrealism is important with Mary Ann Caws and Mark Polizzotti at 7 p.m. in the Hodges Library auditorium.
The schedule for the rest of the Symposium's events can be found here.