Reflections

SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

UNIVERSITY, INC.

Dir/Prod/Ed: Kyle Henry; Ed: Spencer Parsons; Music: Takako Minekawa, Laurie Speigel, Pauline Oliveros.

Video, 54 min., 1999

What defines a higher education in these heady days? According to Kyle Henry's documentary University, Inc., greed, dispassion, and a singularly callous attitude toward the student body are the name of the increasingly popular game from state to state. Henry, a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, began focusing his eye on administration politics at his alma mater in the wake of the University's unexpected (and highly controversial) dismantling of the Texas Union's Student Film Program, which for over two decades had offered students a chance to see some of the most relevant and important films ever made, from John Woo to Ingmar Bergman. Beginning with a commission from the TV show Split Screen, Henry delved into an increasingly obfuscated administration policy and uncovered a web of half-truths and outright deceit that rankles to this day. University, Inc. is a parable of sorts -- a David vs. Goliath free-for-all in which the Giant UT soundly thumps the student body's David and shot through with bleak humor (including a scene reminiscent of Michael Moore's Roger & Me, in which an all-too-patient Henry tries to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the UT Dean of Students). Simultaneously witty and depressing, Henry's film guts the long-standing myth that the university is, in the end, there for the sole benefit of its students.

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