Tag Archive for Film Studies

Östör’s Film Screens at National Film Festivals

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, explores the life of a painter, composer and singer living in West Bengal, India.

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, explores the life of a painter, composer and singer living in West Bengal, India.

The new film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, directed by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and edited by film major Joe Sousa ’03, began its journey debuting at the biennial Royal Anthropological Film Festival, held at Leeds University in July.

The film was then shown at the the American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia, Pa. Dec. 2-6. It also was screened recently at at Brown where it was featured as the lead event in Brown’s “Year of India” celebrations (2009-10).

The “sorrowful man,” Dukhushyam Chitrakar is a charismatic figure who encourages women to take up the traditional craft of scroll painting and musical composition pursued almost exclusively by men before.

In a series of edited sequences, the film chronicles Dukhushyam’s vision of the decline and rebirth of his art; his tolerant Sufi Muslim spirituality; his engagement with Hindus, Muslims and the modern world; his encyclopedic knowledge of changing musical and painting histories and techniques; the influence of his beliefs on his way of life, and his teachings for future generations of painters and singers in his community.

Read more about the film in an Oct. 27, 2009 Wesleyan Connection article.

Whedon ’87 to Receive Award from Producers Guild of America

Joss Whedon '87

Joss Whedon '87

Joss Whedon ’87 will be honored by the Producers Guild of America with its Vanguard Award, which recognizes achievements in new media and technology. He will receive the award at the 21st Annual PGA Awards ceremony on Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. Previous Vanguard Award recipients include George Lucas, James Cameron, John Lasseter, MySpace CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe and president and co-founder Tom Anderson, and YouTube founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Will Wright.

Whedon is a producer, writer, director, and creator for the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Toy Story’s screenplay, and he wrote and directed the film Serenity. He also created and produced the popular Internet series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, for which he received an Emmy Award this year.

Whedon will be directing a forthcoming episode of the hit television series, Glee. Another upcoming project is The Cabin in the Woods, a feature he co-wrote with Drew Goddard, to be released in 2011.

Palardy ’05 Wins Filmmaking Award

Bridget Palardy '05

Bridget Palardy '05

Brooklyn, N.Y. resident Bridget Palardy ’05 has received the inaugural JT3 Artist Award of Distinction for emerging filmmakers for her short film Middletown B-Boys, a compelling dance-filled documentary that was shot in Middletown, Conn.

Palardy and four other innovative young filmmakers from Brooklyn were honored at the first-ever JT3 Artist Awards at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 22 in a celebration with director Adam Brooks (Definitely, Maybe) and hosted by Tony-award nominated actor Brandon Victor Dixon. A nonprofit foundation created in memory of the dynamic young writer/director/producer Jesse Thompkins III, who died in a tragic traffic accident last year, JT3 Art helps cultivate budding movie makers.

JT3 Art chose Brooklyn as the focus of their 2009 grant program because of Jesse Thompkins’ passion for the neighborhood. Brooklyn was not just a place where he lived. He found frequent inspiration for his many short films on her streets.

Director Brooks, for whom Thompkins worked as an assistant on Definitely, Maybe, presented Palardy with her award for Middletown B-Boys and for her short script, Spark, a coming-of-age story set in an oppressive future. Spark is currently in post-production.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Palardy at the award ceremony. “It means a lot to me to be able to show Middletown B-Boys to such a supportive audience and also have the opportunity to meet talented film professionals. I am thankful to the Thompkins family for starting this Foundation, and inspired by Jesse’s life and his passion for film.”

Östör, Sousa ’03 Screen Films Oct. 29

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, will be screened at 5 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Powell Family Cinema inside the Center for Film Studies.

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, will be screened at 5 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Powell Family Cinema inside the Center for Film Studies.

A film directed by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and edited by film major Joe Sousa ’03, explores the life of a painter, composer and singer living in West Bengal, India.

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, was screened Oct. 29 in the Powell Family Cinema inside the Center for Film Studies.

The “sorrowful man,” Dukhushyam Chitrakar is a charismatic figure who encourages women to take up the traditional craft of scroll painting and musical composition pursued almost exclusively by men before.

In a series of edited sequences, the film chronicles Dukhushyam’s vision of the decline and rebirth of his art; his tolerant Sufi Muslim spirituality; his engagement with Hindus, Muslims and the modern world; his encyclopedic knowledge of changing musical and painting histories and techniques; the influence of his beliefs on his way of life, and his teachings for future generations of painters and singers in his community.

Joe Sousa '03 and Matt Sienkiewicz '03 directed and produced <em>Live: from Bethlehem</em>.

Joe Sousa '03 and Matt Sienkiewicz '03 directed and produced Live: from Bethlehem.

Another film, directed and produced by Sousa and Matt Sienkiewicz ’03 producer/director was shown after Songs of a Sorrowful Man. Live: from Bethlehem, is a feature documentary and online video source that tells the story of how journalists from the Ma’an Network have declared independence from hate-filled propaganda and are revolutionizing media in the Palestinian Territories.

The film chronicles the struggles, failures and triumphs of the network, the only major independent news source in the Palestinian Territories. Following the lives of the station’s reporters, producers and photographers, the documentary provides an in-depth, balanced look into the challenges of making news in one of the world’s most combative regions.

Östör and Sousa discussed their films following the screenings.

Draper ’12 Interns at Cannes Film Festival

Nathaniel Draper '12 and his friend Matt Firpo (NYU '12) stand in front of Festival de Cannes emblem in the Grand Lumiere Theater. Draper was an intern at the Festival de Cannes.

Nathaniel Draper '12 and his friend Matt Firpo (NYU '12) stand in front of Festival de Cannes emblem in the Grand Lumiere Theater. Draper was an intern at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France.

For 15 days, Nathaniel Draper ’12 mingled with top filmmakers at the Cannes Film Festival while participating in educational workshops, seminars, pitch sessions, roundtable discussions and screenings. He also happened to pick up an award for a film of his own while he was there.

As a student intern at the 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival, held May 13-24 in southern France, Draper had a hands-on opportunity to explore the film industry through the prism of perhaps it most prestigious international event.

“It was, to put it lightly, a surreal experience,” Draper recalls. “I was able to meet iconic directors such as Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola, and found myself interacting with actors and directors such as Inglorious Basterds’ Eli Roth.”

Draper applied for the internship though the American Pavilion Student Filmmaker Program at Cannes, which is the festival’s center for American film and filmmakers.

Draper spent a week with avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas in Paris.

Draper spent a week with avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas in Paris.

The internship program included a three-day pre-Festival orientation and tour of Cannes, including workshops and seminars on the business of filmmaking; nightly festival premiers; roundtable discussions with industry professionals; and an opportunity to network with industry insiders and observe the business of filmmaking firsthand.

“I was granted full festival accreditation–basically a carte blanche to go anywhere in the festival, which allowed me to interact with filmmakers, explore the Cannes film market, and essentially network with the incredibly array of industry professionals that were there,” Draper says. “I took part in panel discussions ranging from screenwriters to the screen actors guild to premier directors.”

Elia Kazan Centennial Celebrated with Film, Gallery Exhibit

Wesleyan is celebrating the life of Elia Kazan throughout the fall semester. (Photo courtesy of eliakazan.net)

Wesleyan is celebrating the life of Elia Kazan throughout the fall semester. (Photo courtesy of eliakazan.net)

If you want to study the life and work of Elia Kazan, “you come to Wesleyan.”

That’s what Jeanine Basinger, chair and the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, suggests to students or film fanatics in the community. For more than two decades, screenwriter/director Kazan (1909-2003) had ties with Wesleyan, and donated photographs, scripts, personal letters, and other life documents to the university.

To celebrate and honor Kazan on what would be his 100th birthday, the Film Studies Department is hosting the Elia Kazan Centennial. The semester-long retrospective includes 11 Kazan film screenings with introductions, a gallery exhibit, a course titled “Celebrating Elia Kazan” and additional related events and speakers.

All showings begin at 8 p.m. every Thursday through Dec. 3. at the Center for Film Studies. The exhibit will be open from 7 to 8 p.m. in the adjacent Rick Nicita Gallery prior to the screenings. The exhibit materials from the Wesleyan Cinema Archives’ Elia Kazan Collection.

“It’s appropriate as his official archive, that Wesleyan honor his Centennial,” says Basinger, who had a personal tie to Kazan. “Mr. Kazan and I had a mutual interest in film and theater and became good friends. He loved my students

Miller ’99: A Top 20 Canadian Film Maker

Garfield Lindsay Miller '99 is the writer/producer of <em>The Last New Year</em>, which debuted at the Victoria Film Fest as the Canadian Gala Film. (Photo by Kerry Haynes/North Shore Outlook)

Garfield Lindsay Miller '99 is the writer/producer of The Last New Year, which debuted at the Victoria Film Fest as the Canadian Gala Film. (Photo by Kerry Haynes/North Shore Outlook)

Garfield Lindsay Miller ’99 is featured in a July 29 article titled “Dramatic Choices,” published by the BC Local News North Shore Outlook section.

Miller’s filmmaking resume includes co-writing and producing the award-winning and Gemini-nominated documentary The Fires that Burn about Sister Elaine MacInnes and co-writing Stone’s Throw, an award-winning dramatic feature film set in Nova Scotia – among many other film credits. Most recently, Miller, who is back living in British Columbia, was voted one of the top 20 Top Canadian Film Makers by a jury of his peers.

Miller’s new feature film, The Last New Year, which recently debuted at the Victoria Film Fest as the Canadian Gala Film, has already garnered rave reviews. The film explores the relationships between a group of friends who made a pact in high school to get together each New Year’s Eve.

The online article mentions how Miller transferred to Wesleyan to study English and play baseball. He signed up for the History of World Cinema and worked as a TA in Wesleyan’s Film Studies Department.

“I realized film had the potential to be an art form – I’d never realized that before, I always just though of it as entertainment,” he says in the article. “It was there that I (really) discovered film. I took more film (classes) than English (classes).”

After graduation, he returned to B.C. and got a job on a local tech TV show and wrote a screenplay, according to the article.

Tintori ’06 to Direct “Light Boxes”

According to Variety, Ray Tintori ’06 is slated to direct Shane Jones’ debut novel “Light Boxes.” Spike Jonze has acquired feature rights.

“Light Boxes,” published earlier this year by Genius Press, is centered on a mysterious town that endures a deadly 1,000-day winter.

Tintori’s directed numerous music videos plus short films “Jettison Your Loved Ones” and “Death to the Tinman,” the later of which was completed while he was a student at Wesleyan and later featured at the Sundance Film Festival.

Transformers Sequel Directed by Bay ’86 is a Huge International Hit

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Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Paramount Pictures)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen directed by Michael Bay ’86 with a screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ’95, opened in late June to mixed reviews, but the film, a sequel to Transformers (2007), sold some $201.2 million in tickets at North American theaters over its first five days as the number one film at the box office.

In his review of the film in The New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote:
“Mr. Bay is an auteur. His signature adorns every image in his movies … and every single one is inscribed with a specific worldview and moral sensibility.”

In the latest film based on Hasbro toys, the young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is on his way to college but is compelled to join the Autobots robots in an intergalactic feud against their sworn enemies, the Decepticons.

The weekend of July 10-12, Transformers 2 remained very popular at the domestic box office, grossing $24.2 million from more than 4,200 screens for a total of $339.2 million in its third weekend. Overseas during the same weekend, the film continued to attract large audiences, grossing $32.5 million from 63 territories for a total of $364.5 million. The picture has done particularly well in Asia, and had a strong debut in India.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has made $703.7 million worldwide.

Writer/Director Whedon ’87 Shasha Seminar Keynote

How Movies and TV Get Made."

Joss Whedon '87, Academy Award-nominated and Hugo Award-winning writer, a director, an executive producer, was the keynote speaker at the 2009 Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns. The three-day seminar focused on "Defining American Culture: How Movies and TV Get Made."

Whedon spoke to members of the audience following his talk May 30. He was the writer, director, and executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. His latest creative project is the new TV series Dollhouse.

Whedon spoke to members of the audience following his talk May 30. He was the writer, director, and executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. His latest creative project is the new TV series Dollhouse.

Pictured in center, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, chair of the Film Studies Department, was the Shasha Seminar's facilitator.

Pictured in center, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, chair of the Film Studies Department, was the Shasha Seminar's facilitator.

Wheadon and Basinger spoke to Shasha Seminar attendees and Wesleyan students at a pre-address dinner May 30. (Photos by Bill Burkhart, university photographer)

Whedon and Basinger spoke to Shasha Seminar attendees and Wesleyan students at a pre-address dinner May 30. (Photos by Bill Burkhart, university photographer)

Other presenters at the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns included author Mark Harris; Mark I. Bomback ’93, screenwriter, whose credits include Race to Witch Mountain, Live Free or Die Hard, and Deception; Miguel Arteta, film and television director of Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Six Feet Under and Youth in Revolt.

Also Liz Garcia ’99, producer, editor and writer of Cold Case; Evan Katz ’83, screenwriter and the executive producer of the television series 24; David Kendall ’79, director of several television series, including Jonas, Hannah Montana and Growing Pains; Dan Shotz ’99, producer, editor and writer, Jericho, and the new show Harper’s Island; Matthew Greenfield ’90, vice president of production, Fox Searchlight Pictures; Dylan Leiner ’93, executive vice president, acquisitions and production, Sony Pictures Classics; Jason Zolov ’94, market researcher at Home Box Office and Jeffrey S. Lane ’76, five-time Emmy Award-winner and television writer of Mad About You and Cagney and Lacy.

Connecticut Nursing Board Requests Student Films

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

The Connecticut League For Nursing Board has requested Wesleyan students enrolled in the class, “Making the Science Documentary,” show and display samples of their films during the board’s annual convention June 4 in Portland, Conn.

The science and film hybrid class, designated a Service Learning Course, was designed to introduce students to topics in the life sciences and the basics of documentary filmmaking, in order to teach students the skills and art of communicating science-related issues through visual media.

The class was co-taught by Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies. The nursing profession was the topic of this year’s films.

Students Explore Nursing Profession Through Documentary Film Course

Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies, works with Laurenellen McCann '09 on a nursing profession film April 23. Bricca is co-teaching the spring semester course "Making the Science Documentary."

Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies, works with Laurenellen McCann '09 on a nursing profession film April 23. Bricca is co-teaching the spring semester course "Making the Science Documentary." McCann's film is focused on an oncology nurse.

Baltimore native Esther McCready grew up in segregated, discriminatory world and was denied admission to the University of Maryland School of Nursing. At that time, the school did not admit “Negros.”

With help from NAACP civil rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall, she sued for admission to the university, and in April 1950, McCready won her right to attend classes.

In the spring semester course “Making the Science Documentary,” molecular biology and biochemistry major Christopher Doucette ’11 had the opportunity to interview and film McCready about being the first African American woman to attend Maryland’s School of Nursing. He also interviewed Rosetta Sands, the first African American dean in the University of Maryland’s undergraduate program.

“I asked these women about their stories and really analyzed how racial relations affected their school and working experience as nurses before, during and after the Civil Rights movement,” Doucette says. “I have always been interested in how science has been represented through both still and moving images, and this class really taught me how documentaries can be effective tools in conveying information and educating the public about pressing social and scientific issues.”

Doucette and his classmates Sarah Gillig ’09 and Vytaute Pivoriunaite ’12 traveled to the University of Maryland School of Nursing Living History Museum, where they conducted research on the history of nursing. Each student made his or her own film for the class, which was co-taught by Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies.

The science and film hybrid class, designated a Service Learning Course, is designed to introduce students to topics in the life sciences and the basics of documentary filmmaking, in order to teach students the skills and art of communicating science-related issues through visual media.

Students learn technical filmmaking skills such as composition, lighting and editing, and study science documentaries to understand functional models of non-fiction filmmaking. In complementary sessions, students learned about specific diseases, at the molecular, cellular, and human level, to develop a knowledge base that enables intellectual engagement with the nursing profession.

“I wanted students to gain an appreciation of the biological sciences at the molecular and organism level, learn about diseases like cancer and diabetes that have a devastating impact on so many people, and learn about biomedical research as it relates to the nursing profession,” Hingorani explains.

The 12 enrolled students worked under the guidance of Ann Anthony, a retired home care registered nurse and educator. Anthony made arrangements for the students to meet nurses working in hospice, oncology and palliative care at Middlesex Hospital; nurses working at the Joslin Diabetes Center in New London, Conn.; and a certified nurse specializing in wound care at Middlesex Hospital. Anthony also lectured on the history of the nursing profession, explaining how the nursing profession has evolved in the past 50 years.

“I was very impressed with the integrity and open-mindedness of all the Wesleyan students, and how serious they were in their projects,” Anthony says. “It was fascinating to see how these students with no medical or nursing background approached their films with a liberal arts perspective.”

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

Classmates Chris Skorik ’09, Kaitlin Halibozek ’10 and Elliott Skopin ’11 explored the role of gender in the field of nursing for their films. They interviewed two male nurses, one at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, and one from Middlesex Hospital, about their experiences in the profession.

“Nursing is currently dominated by about 90 percent females due to historical and cultural associations between the role females in society and nursing,” Skorik says. “As we had expected, they faced social barriers to their acceptance as nurses, especially early on in their careers. Confusion and occasional opposition was common from family members, for example ‘why aren’t you becoming a doctor instead?’ and from patients ‘wait, so you’re not my doctor?'”

All three students shot footage and interviews, and created three separate cuts based on their own preferences. From seven hours of raw footage, they created three, eight-minute documentaries highlighting different aspects of this interesting phenomenon.

This is the second iteration of “Making the Science Documentary” taught by Hingorani and Bricca. The first class, taught in Spring 2007, focused on four research labs at Wesleyan. The course is part of the interdisciplinary Science and Film Courses initiative begun in 2005 with support from Wesleyan’s Fund for Innovation, the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Doucette’s film on African American nurses and Halibozek’s film on male nursing will be shown at the 2009 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing, Connecticut’s largest state-wide nursing recognition program on April 30. Doucette’s film will be shown at a gala in Hartford, and Halibozek’s film will be shown at a gala in New London.