Hochstetler named executive director

Meghan Hochstetler, Robinson Film Center’s interim executive director, has been named executive director by the nonprofit’s board of directors.

Hochstetler has been at Robinson Film Center since 2011 helping to grow and sharpen RFC’s education and film programming. She took over as interim executive director in May from outgoing director Alexandyr Kent.

“I’m so proud to be a part of the Robinson Film Center team of board and staff members,” Hochstetler said. “I’m excited to continue working for and leading this organization that is very close to my heart.”

Hochstetler came to RFC in 2011 as a media educator. In 2012 she became education director and in 2015 was named director of audience. After earning a journalism degree from Louisiana Tech University, Hochstetler worked as a freelance writer for local publications like The Shreveport Times while also pursuing a career working with teenagers at area churches.

“We are very proud to announce Meghan Hochstetler as our new executive director,” said Justin Ricou, board president of RFC. “Meghan has done a magnificent job for Robinson Film Center. We are looking forward to continued success and great happenings at RFC.”

RFC names interim executive director

Meghan Hochstetler, Robinson Film Center’s audience director, has been named interim executive director by the nonprofit’s board of directors. She takes over May 2 for outgoing executive director Alexandyr Kent, who is moving soon with his family to Wisconsin.

Hochstetler has worked at Robinson Film Center since 2011. She has helped to grow and sharpen RFC’s education and film programming.

“I’m proud to be a part of the team of staff and board members at RFC and excited for this opportunity,” Hochstetler said. “It has been a pleasure to work for and with Alex for the past five years. He’s done incredible things for our organization, and I look forward to helping RFC push ahead.”

Hochstetler began working at RFC in 2011 as a media educator. In 2012 she became education director and in 2015 was named director of audience. After earning a journalism degree from Louisiana Tech University, Hochstetler worked as a freelance writer for local publications like The Shreveport Times, while also pursuing a career working with teenagers at area churches.

“We’re very fortunate to have Meghan,” said Ro White, board president of RFC. “We’re sorry to see Alex go, but RFC has a great team in place. Meghan is the right choice to lead us through this transition. She’s been a great spokesperson and tireless leader for our programming. She will do a great job carrying RFC forward.”

Kent’s final day at RFC is April 29. The board will celebrate his contributions at a happy hour reception on May 3, the evening of Give for Good. The “day of giving,” sponsored locally by the Community Foundation of North Louisiana, is an opportunity for citizens to support their favorite nonprofits by donating online at www.giveforgoodnla.org.

Robinson Film Center’s executive director, family departing for Madison, Wis.

Alexandyr Kent, who has served as Robinson Film Center’s executive director since late 2010, has announced he is moving with his family to Madison, Wisconsin.

His wife, Kate Archer Kent, news producer at Red River Radio, has accepted a new position at Wisconsin Public Radio. Madison represents an opportunity for the Kents to advance their careers and move closer to family members living in the Midwest.

RFC executive director Alexandyr Kent and his wife, Kate Archer Kent.

RFC executive director Alexandyr Kent and his wife, Kate Archer Kent.

“I’m proud of my wife, and we’re a great team,” Alexandyr Kent said. “We have lived in Louisiana for 14 years and are sad to leave this warm community. Madison is a wonderful opportunity for us and our kids, and we look forward to it. At the same time, it’s very hard to leave the staff, board, moviegoers and members at Robinson Film Center. They are the bedrock of this institution, and I will be forever grateful to them. RFC is a unique, vibrant center for culture in Shreveport. I can’t wait to watch it grow as a longtime fan.”

During Kent’s tenure, RFC expanded its education programs to include a Teen Film Council and added popular series such as the Family Matinee and Faith on Film. He also worked with the board on fundraising projects to expand the membership program, add digital projection, replace weathering seats, and recently, crowdfund a new marquee. He began working at RFC in 2009.

“Movies mean a great deal to me because they play a vital role in people coming together to explore new ideas, emotions and experiences,” Kent said. “I’m proud that this community is so passionate about this place. This is an entertainment and culture destination that people celebrate day in and day out. It feels good to watch people enjoy it.”

Ro White, president of RFC’s board of directors, says Kent will be missed.

“Alex has been the heart and soul of RFC, and we will miss him dearly,” White said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words, but I am also happy for him and his family. He has all of my support. This is a great opportunity for them.”

The board of directors is currently meeting to discuss its interim management plans.
“RFC won’t be the same,” White said, “but I’m confident that we are in a good position to move forward into a new chapter.”

 

Jefferson Hendricks: The importance of Trumbo

Trumbo arrives at the RFC this week, a film that presents a darkly-comic view of one of the least-comic periods in American history, the McCarthy era of the 1940s and 50s.  Trumbo covers several years in the life of Dalton Trumbo, an award-winning, highly-respected Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted from the movie industry for over a decade after running afoul of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) for his left-of-center political views. 

But some may wonder: who was the historical Dalton Trumbo? And what was the McCarthy Era and The Blacklist? And why should we care?
 
Born in 1905 in western Colorado to a working-class family, Trumbo moved to Los Angeles with his parents in 1925.  While a college student he chose writing as a career but juggled several part-time jobs while piling up rejection letters from his short stories and novels.  By the early 1930s, however, he was beginning to be successful, publishing in national magazines such as Vanity Fair and The Saturday Evening Post.  

His big break in Hollywood came in 1935 when he was hired by Warner Brothers studio as a script reader.  Soon, Trumbo was writing his own scripts and he proved to be fast, versatile, and prolific, working successfully in a wide range of genres, from the college romance Sorority House (1939), to the soap-operaish Kitty Foyle (1940) – which was his first Oscar-nominated screenplay, to the patriotic war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944). By the late 1940s, when Hollywood was at its height of popularity in American culture, Trumbo was one of its most sought-after – and wealthy – scriptwriters. 

The world of Hollywood began to internally combust, however, in October of 1947, when The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a House of Representatives committee formed in the late 1930s to combat Nazism, came to Hollywood to investigate the influence of Communism in the film industry.  Trumbo, and scores of other Hollywood writers, actors, and producers – from Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney to John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart – were called to testify before the committee, either “to confess” their political beliefs and affiliations or “to name names” of those who were Communists or “fellow travelers.”   

Trumbo, like many American writers and intellectuals shaped by The Great Depression, supported progressive politics during the 1930s and 40s.  He even joined the Communist Party for a while during the 1940s.  During the HUAC hearings in Hollywood, Trumbo became linked with “The Hollywood Ten,” a group who refused to answer questions by the committee, citing their First Amendment rights to privacy, speech, and thought.  

In the anti-communist climate of Cold-War America, where Senator Joseph McCarthy dominated national headlines investigating Communist influence in Washington, the Hollywood Ten was cited for contempt of Congress, and each was fined $1000 and spent from six months to a year in prison. Afterwards, they were all blacklisted, meaning they were denied work by the Hollywood studios not wanting to appear “soft” on leftist politics.  

Several hundred people ended up being blacklisted in the entertainment business during the late 1940s and 50s, with many careers being ruined forever.  Some of the more fortunate ones, like Trumbo, continued to work, though at grossly-reduced salaries, under pseudonyms or were “fronted” (Woody Allen starred in a film about this: The Front, 1976) by other screenwriters.

Trumbo's journey through this tortured era (what writer Stefan Kanfer called “The Plague Years”) is one of the most famous of the Hollywood stories.  He continued to get occasional work – behind the scenes – for example, writing the Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday (1953) in which his “front” man won an Academy Award for Screenwriting. And in 1957, Trumbo's screenplay for The Brave Ones, written under the pseudonym “Frank Rich,” won another Oscar.  

The following year, Otto Preminger hired Trumbo to write the Biblical epic Exodus (1960) and Kirk Douglas soon followed by hiring him to write Spartacus (1960).  With the publicity surrounding these two Hollywood blockbusters and Trumbo's name publicly acknowledged, the Blacklist was essentially broken, though the psychic trauma within the Hollywood community has only recently begun to fade.  

So Why See This Film? 
Focusing on Trumbo’s eccentricities (writing his scripts in the bathtub!) – as well as on his superb wit and stubbornness – Bryan Cranston’s performance is the center of the film, a performance that’s receiving a lot of Oscar speculation for Best Actor.  And the supporting cast is filled, too, with wonderful actors:  Helen Mirren, as right-wing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, and John Goodman, as movie producer Frank King, help re-create a Hollywood amidst a political civil war.

Perhaps, more importantly, though, this film may give us some insight into how to handle our own turbulent times, when the pressure of world events is leading us to judge and exclude others, to essentially “blacklist” them from the possibility of the American Dream.  In a world getting increasingly complicated, remembering our country's history and what we might learn from it, might be a very good thing indeed.  

Jefferson Hendricks is the George A. Wilson Eminent Scholars Endowed Chair of American Literature at Centenary College of Louisiana.  A member of RFC’s Board of Directors, he has published four books on the American poet Edwin Rolfe and his involvement in the cultural politics of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

Purchase member tickets online

RFC members can now purchase their discounted tickets online. Here are the steps to activating your membership with our online ticketing system.

Click on SHOWTIMES & TICKETS on the main page of the website.

Select the film/event showtime for which you would like to purchase tickets.

In the upper righthand corner, click on "Forgot Password?"

Enter the email account associated with your membership (this would be the email you provided to RFC when you joined). Click submit.

If the email address used is the one we have on file, you should receive instructions to change your password. Click on the provided link, change your password and activate your account. 

If you are having trouble setting up your account, please contact membership coordinator Jennifer Garcie at jgarcie@robinsonfilmcenter.org or at 318.459.4113.