In today’s installment of Actual Wisdom, meet film professor Richard Peña. Besides teaching at Columbia, he is Program Director of the Film Society at Lincoln Center and Director at the New York Film Festival (see OldBwog’s first and second interviews about that, from before we even knew what theory was). It’s fair to say that he is a BFD in the world of film—and a family man too!
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I’m the husband of a wonderful woman, the father of three terrific children, and a scholar/promoter of international cinema.
Your claim to fame: I think it’s fair to say that I have been among the most active and best-known proponents of understanding and appreciating international cinema in a very broad sense of that term.
What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience? Writing my Senior Thesis was the single best experience I had in college.
What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard? “My boyfriend came for a visit, and I was just too wasted from sex.”
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I’d never give up oral sex.
Back in my day… I wasn’t a Columbia undergraduate, but since I began teaching in 1989 I think political consciousness has returned in a mainly positive way.
Three things you learned at Columbia: These would be as a professor: 1) Listen to students; 2) Listen to colleagues; 3) Everybody basically wants to either make or teach film.
What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general? Try to experience the world as others do.
Image via arts.columbia.edu