The organization’s homepage on the DukeArts website is clear: “We show movies.” And they aren’t lying — that’s exactly what the DUU Freewater Presentations does. With screenings almost every Friday and Saturday, Freewater Presentations regularly provides a free movie-going experience to Duke students and the public. The selections differ every semester, usually going for newer releases. These, however, cover a wide range of options, both the gargantuan blockbusters and the smaller critical darlings. With so many choices, there will almost certainly be something to please everyone.
Generally, each movie is shown four times by Freewater Presentations: 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. The Griffith Film Theater, located in the lower level of the Bryan Center, offers the complete movie experience. There’s a full battery of candy and soda provided by Freewater Presentations to complement the movie atmosphere of the theater. No ticket is needed to attend each showing, so everyone can attend a presentation at no cost to themselves.
Some of the most anticipated showings this semester are also some of the biggest titles of the past year. “Joker,” screening Feb. 21 and 22, drew in huge audiences when it debuted last year, eventually surpassing “Deadpool” to be the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever. It’s joined on April 3 and 4 by “Frozen 2,” which now has the all-time record for most money made by an animated movie. The movie is getting some special treatment, too, as it will not be shown in the Griffith Theater but rather outside on Abele Quad. Another popular movie showing next semester is the final installment in the “Star Wars” series, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which will be shown March 27 and 28.
Other Freewater Presentation screenings will highlight some of the critics’ favorites from the past year. Keep an eye out for “Knives Out,” a detective thriller movie, on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, which was widely lauded for its fun take on the murder-mystery genre. Another movie beloved by critics is Quentin Tarantino’s ode to the Hollywood New Wave, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” which will screen Feb. 28 and 29.
Freewater Presentations is also occasionally showing movies outside of its normal Friday and Saturday Griffith Theater schedule. Sometimes, this simply means having the movie on a Thursday, as the organization is doing with the widely-praised South Korean film “Parasite,” playing Feb. 20. Other special showings include the “dive-in” screening of “Shark Tale” in Wilson Gymnasium’s Taishoff Natatorium April 10 and 11. Freewater Presentations also boasts a Valentine’s Day showing of “Isn’t It Romantic” and a special senior screening of “Just Mercy” April 17 and 18.
The process to choose which movies will be shown isn’t too complicated. Last semester, Freewater Presentations sent out a survey asking students and other interested people which movies they wanted to see this semester. By giving respondents the ability to pick as many options as they want, Freewater Presentations promotes diversity in the kind of movies it puts on while also ensuring that the most popular movies still get shown. However, there are inevitably movies that don’t make the cut. Some of the most notable snubs include the drama and mystery thriller “21 Bridges,” directed by Brian Kirk, and the much-maligned musical “Cats,” which ended up flopping massively after its December release.
Having free movies screen on campus is undoubtedly a huge benefit for the Duke student body. As anybody who’s been to a movie theater in the past few years knows, going to see a film is not a cheap experience. By providing the experience at no cost to (often-cash-strapped) Duke students and the Durham community, Freewater Presentations is admirably promoting arts and culture on campus by making a generally inaccessible experience doable for everyone. That’s no small feat, so maybe check out a movie yourself sometime this semester.
For more information and the full list of showings, check out DUU Freewater Presentations’ Facebook page here.