Might as well get the lame question out of the
way right off the bat.
So, are you a Woody Allen fan?
“Eh, not really,” said Annie Hall, program administrator
in film studies. The question is one, Hall said, she fields about
600 times a day—which is probably not much of an exaggeration.
“We used to have a graduate student who would call me up and
say, ‘Annie, this is Alvy,’” she said. “And
I never got the joke.”
Alvy Singer, for those other non-Woody Allen fans, is the name of
his character in the Academy Award-winning movie Annie Hall.
“He would do his best Woody Allen imitation, and I never got
it,” Hall said. “But I am entirely grateful that it’s
a good movie. Imagine being named ‘Robocop’ or something.”
Hall’s admission that that Alvy joke went over her head is
a bit of a surprise because the lady is razor sharp and sort of
hilarious. And she’s pretty fearless, too. Upon meeting a
first-time visitor, she has no qualms about making a PG-13-rated
joke involving a rubber chicken with which she shares her office.
“I’ve been on college campuses since 1966,” Hall
said. “So I’ve spent my whole life around 18-to-24-year-olds.
That must be for some sin I committed in a previous life. When I
look in the mirror, I see this fat, old, gray-haired woman, but
I don’t recognize her because all I see are young faces. I
think I’m still 21; I have no idea that I’ve gotten
older. And as long as I still flirt with guys and guys flirt back
with me, I don’t worry about it too much.”
Hall’s office, which is no bigger than 100 square feet, is
made even more claustrophobic by the sheer multitude of stuff packed
into it. But what it lacks in space it more than makes up for in
color. One wall is plastered with photographs—of former students,
of current students, of friends, and she has her “sexy men”
corner featuring Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, Liam Neeson, Patrick
Stewart and a few other lucky guys.
Also within easy view, all around the office, in most every nook
and cranny, are sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. “Someone brought
me a sheep Beanie Baby,” Hall said. “Then other people
would bring me sheep. I didn’t mean to start collecting them.
People really don’t need to bring me any more sheep.”
Hall has lost count of how many she has, but the number is well
over 50 (including the one hiding on her bookshelf; the Groucho
Marx glasses may fool a casual observer, but close inspection identifies
“I keep them here because I have nowhere to put them in my
house,” Hall said, picking up a random, palm-sized stuffed
lamb. “Besides, the person who brought me this one will remember
they gave it to me.”
Hall’s bio on the film studies website, which she maintains,
contains the impressive tagline “Master Knitter, True Renaissance
Woman, Seed and Feed Abominette, and Heart of All Things Film Studies.”
Perhaps it would be good to take each of these designations one
at a time.
Knitter: “I remember my mother teaching me
to knit when I was 3 years old,” Hall said. “It was
a big event in my life.” She not only knits things for herself
(while being interviewed, she is wearing a scarf she made and carrying
a half-finished shawl in her purse), but she also teaches others.
She leads a class at the Callanwolde Arts Center and for the last
five years has taught knitting at Emory’s Center for Lifelong
“That class fills up within hours of the catalog hitting the
streets,” said center Director Steve Stoffle. Sure enough,
all of the slots for the spring quarter are long gone. Hall likes
to keep the classes small so each student can have individual attention.
Interestingly, most of her students are 20- and 30-somethings, looking
not only to learn a new skill but to take part in a fun social activity.
“I used to do a lot of theater, but I got old and tired,”
Hall said. “But there is still this creative part in me I
have to let out, and knitting satisfies it.”
• True Renaissance
Woman: At the Renaissance Festival, Hall can be
outside the main gate spinning yarn on her spinning wheel with fellow
members of the Peachtree Handspinners Guild—she makes a lot
of her own yarn (the wool she uses is related to the sheep she accidentally
collects as well)—but she’s a Renaissance Woman because
she can converse about most anything and has had a truckload of
Hall’s resume includes surviving a bout with colon cancer
(she was given just a year to live back in 1984), dropping out of
school to contribute to the anti-war movement in the 1960s and living
for a year among the juniper trees outside Albuquerque, N.M., in
a commune run by a man named Ulysses S. Grant (probably not his
real name), who liked to ride around on a horse.
• Seed and
Feed Abominette: The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable
is a volunteer marching band that mixes music with street theater.
Hall, who is quick to mention that she completely lacks musical
talent, has contributed to the latter.
The Atlanta band is a traditional centerpiece of the Inman Park
Festival parade, which took place on Saturday. Hall used to march
with the band, shaking her pom-poms, but this year, she was content
to hang in the crowd. “That is my high holy day,” said
Hall of the festival afternoon, which resembles a family-friendly
Mardi Gras parade. “For me, there is no bigger celebration
of life than when the Marching Abominable comes marching down the
street. The Hari Krishnas are marching, the Euclid Ave. Yacht Club,
guys in kilts, the Salvation Army band. It’s wonderful.”
• The Heart
of All Things Film Studies: After spending a year
working for Emory Libraries, Hall moved over to theater and film
studies in 1985 as a secretary.
“I figured I could type letters other people had written,”
she said. In less than a year, the department’s administrative
assistant quit, and Hall moved up the ladder and has been there
“She is a lifesaver,” said Karla Oeler, assistant professor
of film studies. “Every time I have a question, she has the
answer. She’s just a a very friendly person who everyone is
easily drawn to.”
In the course of her job, Hall takes care of administration of both
the graduate and undergraduate programs in film studies, budgeting
and grant management, the film studies website, support for film
studies faculty, and a variety of other duties. Visitors to the
film studies office, which is tucked away on the first floor of
the Rich Building, invariably poke their head in to say hello, or
at least give a wave.
“If I’m not here, the office isn’t open,”
Hall said. “It’s slightly insane, but in a good way.
I can’t think of another job on campus I would rather have.”