Student-Athletes Promote Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival

Student-Athletes Promote Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival

Student organizations are a big part of the Carnegie Mellon University experience, and one in particular has already made an impact on freshman women’s tennis student-athlete Karena Zhang and sophomore track and field student-athlete Peter Geyer. Both are members of the development committee for the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival, while Zhang carries an additional role as head of marketing and public relations.

The Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival is the only international film festival run completely by students. It aims to expose the Carnegie Mellon and greater Pittsburgh community to films which they otherwise may not hear about.

Zhang joined the organization after applying to an internship posting to further develop her marketing skills and has learned much about film and how it connects different cultures.  Geyer learned about the International Film Festival through his Global Histories class and became interested in being a larger part of the group because of his interest in business and love for film.

The International Film Festival takes place each spring, but throughout the year Carnegie Mellon aims to host different events that add to the festival to get people excited about the series of films that can be seen in different locations around Pittsburgh.

As athletes, Zhang and Geyer know the busy schedule student-athletes keep and that there can be little time to explore other interests.

“Students at CMU, especially athletes, have very tight schedules and sometimes have trouble exploring new interests or even ones they know they have,” said Geyer. “The CMU IFF provides students with this opportunity. Films that can usually not be seen anywhere else are shown and discussions that may not occur elsewhere are encouraged, many times with the film's director or a panel.”

This year’s theme is Faces of Identity and on Friday, November 18 the CMU International Film Festival and Pittsburgh Humanities Festival will present the Pittsburgh Premiere of The Interrogation, India’s entry for the 89th Academy Awards. The director of the film, Vetrimaaran, will be at the screening.

“One of the things we think is important is to have an all-encompassing experience,” said Zhang. “We’re thrilled to have the director here for a Q&A and we like to provide food that goes with the culture of the film. Because of that, they’ll be South Indian food served Friday so that viewers will get to use the taste aspect of their senses as well.”

As the head of marketing and PR, Zhang has been working to change the target demographic the IFF has been reaching and would like more students to hear about the opportunity to view films and engage in conversation.

“Throughout this I’ve really gotten to connect who gets impacted by this stuff, who’s interested in this stuff and who we market our events to,” said Zhang. “My job is to figure out how we can target younger audiences so that they would come to our events. That’s who we want, that’s our future and that’s who we want to be talking about this.”

Geyer was one of the members who screened the film being presented Friday.

“Going to the screening was not only an enjoyable experience but it opened my eyes to the side of a conflict I never knew existed,” said Geyer. “In today's society, we usually only see the U.S.'s side of every issue and conflict; one of the greatest aspects of CMU IFF is the exposure it gives to other counties' points of views of conflicts all around the world. Many students, and people in general, do not know of these sides of issues and it is always fascinating to see all types of issues from different viewpoints.”

Tickets for Friday’s premiere at 6:00 p.m. in McConomy Auditorium are available online and at the door. Cost $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For more information about the show visit