The IU Cinema showed the film at 7 p.m. Saturday. The screening was a part of the Cinema’s specialty sneak preview for the Bloomington public to see films before they are released in theaters.
“Dope” centers on a character who transitions from being a smart student to an underachiever after responding to an invitation and attending an underground party, according to the IU Cinema’s website.
The film is directed by Rick Famuyiwa and produced by Forest Whitaker. It stars Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Zoë Kravitz and A$AP Rocky and is set to be released June 19 in the U.S.
Brittany D. Friesner, associate director of IU Cinema, had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and see the debut screening of “Dope.” She said based on her observations of the audience members, the film connected well with all types of people.
“Seeing ‘Dope’ at Sundance in a packed theater with nearly 1,200 other festival-goers was an incredibly fun experience,” Friesner said. “The film had a lot of buzz going into Sundance and did not disappoint. Most films at Sundance receive generous applause following the screening, but ‘Dope’ was the first standing ovation of the 2015 festival I witnessed.”
Friesner said the Cinema received the chance to screen the film before its official release due to its having strong relationships with a variety of film distributors. The Cinema works with studios and promotional companies to set up free previews of upcoming films in target cities such as Bloomington in order to create pre-release buzz.
“After seeing ‘Dope’ at Sundance, I knew it would be a hit with Bloomington audiences and immediately sent a message to the distributor indicating our interest in screening the film once they had a release date,” Friesner said. “We had actually hoped to screen the film this summer as part of our International Arthouse Series, but the timing didn’t work out. So, when we were presented with the opportunity to preview it, we jumped at the chance.”
Jon Vickers, director of IU Cinema, said receiving the opportunity to screen “Dope” film for staff and students free of charge is a rewarding experience. He said he thinks the film is fitting for the Cinema’s program.
“I think it’s an alternative to commercial films out there since it has a fresh new voice,” Vickers said. “Sundance tries to introduce audiences to new voices, and I think that’s fitting for our program since we do the same. We tend to do serious films.”
Friesner said students and staff would enjoy “Dope” due to the film’s fun but serious storyline and the underlying message.
“The film challenges the viewer’s expectations about what kind of movie, what kind of story, what kind of characters they’ve been sharing the last two hours with,” Friesner said. “By the end of the movie, you realize you have had a fantastic time getting to know these characters, but you have also been asked to consider how well you know yourself. So, yes, it’s a really fun movie, but it’s not just a fun movie.”
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