DeBartolo Performing Arts Center rolls out virtual movie club

Author: Sue Ryan

Zoom back camera

Pop your own popcorn. Sit back and enjoy the show at your convenience, then join with fellow movie buffs each evening, Mondays through Thursdays, for a virtual movie club hosted by the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC).

The initiative, entitled Zoom Back Camera, is an ad hoc movie club that encourages cinephiles to watch specific films on their own time and later join scheduled online discussions to share thoughts and learn more about the film.

According to Ricky Herbst, cinema program director for the DPAC’s Browning Cinema, this virtual interaction is meant to keep movie lovers connected during this time of social distancing.

“Before screenings in the Browning Cinema, we have a tradition,” Herbst explained. “We invite the guests to take 30 seconds to shake the hand of someone you don’t know, wave to someone new or make a new friend. The goal is to actively build the vibrant and ephemeral communities movies have formed for decades. Our shared experiences in cinemas are why so many of us fell in love with the movies — laughing and crying and screaming together is an amazing way to experience art.

“While we and many other venues sensibly stepped away from public screenings, the need for those shared laughs and cries and screams comes into sharper relief now more than ever,” he continued.

Each Friday a new schedule of films for the upcoming week is published on the DPAC Facebook page and sent to email newsletter subscribers. Interested movie buffs pick and choose the films they would like to watch and view them on their own time via their personal streaming service. At 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays Herbst hosts a remote discussion with a featured guest. Viewers are encouraged to join the online movie forum and submit real-time questions and comments.

Some films may require a nominal online rental fee, while others are available via streaming services. There is no fee to take part in the interactive online discussion, which stream on YouTube. To receive the DPAC e-newsletter, sign up at

“It’s impossible to replicate the rush of going to the movies,” Herbst said. “But, we’re working with what we've got. We hope these screenings are an enjoyable way for movie lovers to structure their day, learn more about film and keep our community together until we can start shaking hands in the Browning Cinema again.”