March 1, 2017

Rider University Film Symposium, “Sure Deals”

On Thursday, March 2, and Friday, March 3, Rider University will host film scholars and student presenters at its annual film symposium, this year devoted to the gangster genre.

The subject of the symposium, “‘Sure Deals’ and ‘Offers You Can’t Refuse’: American and Global Gangster/Crime Films,” was chosen by Rider students last April. 

“Now, months later, it has renewed relevance,” says Dr. Cynthia Lucia, director of Rider’s Film and Media Studies Program. “So many gangster films are about immigrants seeking access to the American Dream — an issue animating current political debate.”

“Many gangster movies pose questions of who is and is not allowed access to the ‘better things,’ and they present possible outcomes when access is denied,” says Lucia. Such questions are crucial in African American gangster films, as featured speaker Dr. Paula J. Massood will discuss on March 2 at 7 p.m. Massood is a professor of film studies at CUNY Brooklyn College and Graduate Center who has published extensively on African-American film and media.

On March 3 at 4:30 p.m., award-winning author and film historian Dr. Thomas Doherty will address censorship anxieties sparked by early Hollywood gangster films. Professor of American studies at Brandeis University, Doherty will discuss the production code and its impact. In response to the code, for instance, some of the liveliest pre-code gangsters played by iconic stars like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson were transformed into G-men bringing criminals to justice.

“But gangster films pose questions extending beyond national borders,” says Lucia. On Thursday, March 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., professors in Rider’s Department of Languages and Literatures will discuss cultural conditions shaping the gangster films of Italy, France, Germany, Mexico, Columbia and China.

The symposium is organized by Rider’s Film and Media Studies (FMS) program, which consists of a minor that approaches film and media from interdisciplinary humanities and cultural studies perspectives, providing students with a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of media within their experience and the world.

The symposium will include screenings and student-faculty presentations on such films as Scarface, The GodfatherGoodfellasBonnie and ClydeThe Usual Suspects, and Donnie Brasco, among others. For a complete listing of symposium events, times, and locations visit

These events are free and open to the public.