Community members, settled on blankets and lounging in lawn chairs eagerly await the start of the film. Credit Photo: Brianna Contreras

On September 9th, 2023, as the sun dipped below the horizon, California State University, San Bernardino’s Osher Adult Re-Entry Center (OARC) illuminated the campus with their first-ever “Movie Under the Stars” event. Hosted in front of the library, this cinematic gathering marked the beginning of the fall semester. It brought together CSUSB students, staff, and local community members for an enchanting screening of the film “Elemental.”

The OARC Center, known for its dedicated support to students re-entering their college education, aimed to extend a warm welcome to returning students and their families through this unique event. In the past, the OARC Center has fostered community engagement with events like their annual Children’s Halloween Party, but this movie night was a notable addition to their repertoire.

Guests were treated to complimentary food and beverages, and the evening kicked off with the distribution of free Kona Ice tickets, setting a lively tone for the gathering. Students and families in attendance expressed their delight with the event and the heartwarming film. Diana Mendoza, a 21-year-old CSUSB student, described the event as her first on-campus experience and praised the film’s emotional impact, saying, “I really liked the event, and the film was so cute that I almost cried at the end. They should, for sure, have more events like this every month.”

Notably, families brought their loved ones, including furry friends, to enjoy the outdoor movie  experience. Omar Santana, a 22-year-old Student Event Associate, expressed his surprise at the large turnout of families and pets, stating, “Even if I wasn’t working this event, I would have wanted to attend. I was surprised by the turnout of so many families and their dogs out here.”

The film’s portrayal of family dynamics resonated with the diverse audience. Mendoza highlighted a pivotal moment, saying, “The moment where the dad accepts her got relatable, and I’m sure for a lot of people our age.” The film’s message about family and the various elements that shape it left a lasting impression on the attendees.

Santana emphasized the broader impact of the film, particularly its relevance to an Asian immigrant American story. “This film is about an Asian immigrant American story. [People] not a part of that culture can watch the film and take these heavy themes as inspiring.”

Mendoza expressed the impact that having a film like Elemental can have on such audiences. “ If I had the privilege [to view this] as a child it would be nice, [but] I think it’s perfect [to] see it now.” This sentiment was echoed by Santana who pointed out,” The film itself is visually stunning, so a child would enjoy it, but it’s more impactful for an adult that could understand these.”  The film’s ability to resonate with various different age groups underlines a universal appeal and depth for even mature audiences. 

As the evening came to an end, the event’s success was evident in the SMSU OARC’s Instagram post, where they expressed their gratitude to everyone who joined in, marking the “Movie Under the Stars” as a resounding success.

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