Tag Archive for Film Studies

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.

Filmmaker Speaks to Wesleyan About Water Crisis

Eco-activist. filmmaker and reality television star Shalini Kantayya spoke about the global water crisis during Wesleyan’s Earth Day Celebration April 15. Her production company, 7th Empire Media, is committed to using media to give a powerful voice to the unheard.

Kantayya captured the attention of the nation during the television series “On the Lot,” a reality show created by Steven Spielberg for the purpose of finding Hollywood’s next great director. Out of over 12,000 filmmakers, Kantayya was the only woman to finish in the top 10.

(Photos by Alexandra Portis ’09)

Tyrnauer ’91, Leff ’90, Burden ’89 Create Valentino Documentary

Matt Tyrnauer '91, left, talks with Valentino.

Matt Tyrnauer '91, left, talks with Valentino.

Matt Tyrnauer ’91, special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, has produced and directed an engaging new documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, which was released nationwide in March. (The film opened in Manhattan on March 18 at the Film Forum.)

Co-produced by Adam Leff ’90 with Carter Burden ’89 as executive producer, the film celebrates the colorful career of the renowned Italian fashion designer Valentino, covering the period between his 70th birthday and his final couture show. It tells the story of his extraordinary life, examines the fashion business today, and deals with the designer’s relationship with fame.

The Last Emperor</em>.

Valentino, center, in Valentino: The Last Emperor.

At the center of the documentary is the unique relationship between Valentino and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti. Tyrnauer and his crew had exclusive, unprecedented access to Valentino and his entourage. In production from June 2005 to July 2007, the filmmakers shot more than 250 hours of footage.

In March, Valentino and Giammetti were guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the film was also featured on The Charlie Rose Show and The View. The documentary has been received favorably in the press. Lisa Berman of Entertainment Weekly says: “I really enjoyed Matt’s film. He did an amazing job, and the access was phenomenal. I found it fascinating how it … became a business story.”

Tyrnauer comments: “The movie, in certain ways—thanks almost entirely to its stars—plays more like a feature film than a documentary. What started as a journalistic inquiry, in the end, revealed a unique love story with the world of fashion as a backdrop.”

Tynnauer was recently interviewed by several publications, including Women’s Wear Daily and IndieWire.

Film website:
http://www.valentinomovie.com/

Mark ’71 Produces 2009 Oscar Telecast

Laurence Mark '71 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The New York Times’ Michael Cieply recently interviewed Laurence Mark ’71, the producer, and Bill Condon, the executive producer, of the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony, scheduled to be telecast on ABC on Feb. 22, 2009.

Mark said he hoped to bring back “a little bit of the party flavor” of past ceremonies and also would welcome “a few shocks and shivers, intended or otherwise.” Both producers expect to make the ceremony more popular with viewers by featuring 2008 films that moved audiences, including films that did not receive nominations.

Mark is currently preparing for the release later this year of a film he produced, Julie & Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The film deals with a young woman’s obsession with cooking star Julia Child.

John Frazer: Professor of Art, Emeritus Taught Drawing, Film for 42 Years

John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, taught drawing and film classes consecutively at Wesleyan from 1959 to 2001. He's pictured here in his Middletown studio with two of his own paintings. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, taught drawing and film classes at Wesleyan from 1959 to 2001. He's pictured here in his Middletown studio with two of his own still life paintings. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

After 42 years of teaching, and a lifetime of painting and drawing, John Frazer isn’t ready to rinse his brushes clean just yet.

Although the professor of art, emeritus, is wheelchair-bound after six knee surgeries, his art studio remains intact. Set-up easels, brushes and oil paints, a painter’s palate and untouched cotton canvases await his return.

“I haven’t been able to paint in over a year, but I will return to painting. I am sure of that, but I prefer to work standing up,” Frazer says. “It’s the only way I’ve ever worked.”

Frazer, a Texas native, came to Wesleyan in 1959 for a one-year appointment teaching painting and drawing to undergraduates.

“I got off the bus on Main Street in Middletown, walked up to campus and looked at the Davison Art Center, and said, ‘I’m going to stay here,'” he recalls.

Frazer, now 76, was 27 years old at the time. He had recently completed a Fulbright grant

Film Studies Benefit Raises Homelessness Awareness

"Where God Left His Shoes" will be shown at the Center for Film Studies Oct. 25 to raise funds for Middlesex County Homelessness Prevention Fund.

When Frank, Angela, and their two children are evicted from their New York City apartment, they have no choice but to move into a homeless shelter. After a few difficult months, an apartment becomes available in a nearby housing project. There’s only one catch: Frank needs a job in order to qualify or the apartment will get rented to someone else. While the rest of the city prepares for Christmas, Frank and his 10-year-old stepson, Justin, roam the cold streets of New York trying to find a job by day’s end.

While this is the story line for the feature film, “Where God Left His Shoes,” the same scenario resonates in the local community.

Senior Writes for 2 Film Publications

Matt Connolly '09

Matt Connolly '09

Matt Connolly '09 is the author of several film reviews , published in Reverse Shot, a quarterly, independently published film journal. Last winter, Connolly sent writing samples to the Reverse Shot editors and he was offered a contributing writer position. Since, he has written reviews on the films Boy A, The Chronicles of Narnia: Price Caspian, Felon, The Incredible Hulk, Frozen River, and others online here.

Connolly also had the opportunity to attend press screenings for select films and have his reviews published the day a film is released.

“As film criticism is ultimately a field I want to pursue, its been a truly amazing experience,” he says. “I’ve even had the privilege of having my articles looked at by the editor Michael Koresky, who has offered wonderful advice on both writing and film.”

In addition, Connolly had the opportunity to intern with American Theatre Commuications Group this summer, where he wrote articles for American Theatre magazine on notable upcoming productions throughout the country for the September and October 2008 editions.

“Interning at American Theatre was a dream, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in arts journalism,” he says. “The magazine allowed me to interview playwrights, actors, directors and even makeup artists.”

Basinger Speaks on Paul Newman for NPR

Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of the Film Studies Department, curator of Cinema Archives, discussed the life of actor Paul Newmanfor “On Point” Oct. 2  on National Public Radio.  The show can be heard online here.