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A crowd gathers outside of Peery's Egyptian Theater after a free viewing of "Ivory Tower"; a movie about student debt in America. (Christina Huerta / The Signpost)

Peery’s Egyptian Theater recently screened Andrew Rossi’s documentary “Ivory Tower,” a film that focuses on the unpleasant realities of the cost of higher education.

The Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery in partnership with the Utah Film Center showed the film on Wednesday as part of a series of free monthly films presented by The Shaw Gallery and the Utah Film Center.

In the film, experts speak about ways that teachers, students and even business owners have tried to ease student loan debt and help students to be successful in life.

“I feel like education is too expensive here, and it’s not affordable for people to pay out of pocket for it,” Cara Krebs, an adjunct instructor in Weber State University’s Department of Visual Art and Design, said.

Currently in the United States, student loan debt is over one trillion dollars and rising.

“I think that it brought up lots of interesting points about financial aid and about how it affects other schools,” WSU junior Austin Bulloch said of the film, adding that he found the film insightful in his own life.

And that’s the end goal of the Shaw Gallery and the reason they provide these film screenings: to create an environment where the community can have discussions on usually hard to talk about topics in a less common medium.

“The reason the gallery is involved is we are trying to create an opportunity for people to interact with film as an art form,”Lydia Gravis, director of the Shaw Gallery said. “It’s free, — free admission, free popcorn and they have these year round.”

These are also the kinds of opportunities that instructors like Krebs urge students to attend.

“It made me think about the situation that other students are dealing with in America and the tuition at their schools,” Bulloch said. “It’s just putting it into perspective at what kind of problem it is.”

“Take advantage of these free things,” Krebs said. “The school makes the extra effort to provide these things without costing students any money. Other places, you’d have to pay a lot for them, so it’s nice to get out and do something.”

For more information about upcoming events, go to the Utah Film Center’s website, or the website for the Shaw Gallery. For more information and help about student loans and how to pay it go to takepart.com/ivorytower.

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