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Don’t Get Hurt By That Glass Ceiling

Some events cannot be explained away as cosmic coincidence.

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Hours before yesterday’s votes were counted, I sat discussing with my producers Soumyaa and Robert how best to present the feminist voice in our movie, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond. Soumyaa suggested we employ the “oppressed gaze,” a well-worn trope used in film/literature theory to represent the idea that there is intrinsic power awarded to the person who gets to do the looking. In traditional novels and movies, the “male gaze” dominates. As spectators, we share that gaze with the camera, director and leading men. The primary recipient of the gaze, the objectified female, has no reciprocal “gazing” power.

We talked about the fact that women were not allowed to look through major telescopes until the 1960s. That American women were not allowed to view the Earth from space until the 1980s. That no matter how capable, how prepared, how passionate or how hard they work, there have been dreams that women could not achieve, just because they were women.

We never thought to discuss that a woman could not become our president in 2016. That came later, last night.

When the space age began, both Hillary Clinton and I (along with many other girls of our era) expressed our desire to become astronauts, but were told we could not. This was more than an escapist fantasy, I think, but rather a desire to enter and explore uncharted territories: deep space, the oval office.

How is space exploration different from the U.S. presidency when, historically, both have been denied to women? How is any quest to achieve a long cherished goal any different when nonsensical barriers like glass ceilings are placed in the way?

To reach a goal, some one must first be able to look at it. Gazing at the proverbial glass ceiling is next to impossible. The glass is transparent, not restricting the view of the dreams that lie beyond it, but preventing progress toward the goal nonetheless. It’s a profoundly false view.

My own brand of feminism, emanating from the same generation as Hillary Clinton’s, fights the oppressed gaze because it makes us angry. The inability to look at whatever we want, whenever we choose, should not be gender-dependent.

The post-election detail that upset me most this morning was reading that Clinton had planned to celebrate with her supporters beneath a glass ceiling that would symbolically shatter. Instead I think workers carefully removed the elaborate prop and stored it away. The glass ceiling remains intact.

Glass ceilings are always there and always will be, whether represented by the lens of the telescope, the window of a spaceship, or the view looking out into the White House Rose Garden.

If the barrier can’t be shattered, then it’s the dream that’s in danger of being shattered to pieces. But there’s another way to look at it: the glass, whether in the ceiling or in the sky, can also be used to focus the view more clearly.

Our awareness of such a barrier – even if we are not able to break it – is painful but necessary. We have to take a long, hard look to see what the barrier reveals, then refocus our gaze toward finding ways to explore what lies beyond.

By Jan Millsapps, Director of Madame Mars: Women and The Quest for Worlds Beyond.

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Film Screening! Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet plays Oct 1

We are excited to share one of our newest releases with the Chamber Music community and the General Public!  Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet follows the world-class musicians on the road in Poland as they play Beethoven and share their talents and legacy with Polish audiences.

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This Saturday, Osher Life Long Learning Institute hosts an all day Chamber Music Immersion event featuring master classes, performances, film, and dinner!  Schedule is below:

Special Segment (limited access):

3:00 pm – Lecture “Master Class Pieces”: John Prescott

3:45pm – Master Class Observation

Main Event

5:00 pm – Find Seating

5:30 pm – Concert: Alexander String Quartet

6:15 pm –  Film Screening: “ Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet”

6:45 – Q&A and Reception with the Filmmakers and Alexander String Quartet

7:00 – Dinner

To reserve your complementary spot for the screening of the film, follow the link below. On the right hand side of the site, under tickets, simply select “Film Only” to confirm your seat.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chamber-music-immersion-an-audience-participation-event-tickets-27688050705

We would greatly appreciate the support of this production and hope to see you there.

Call for Interns! – Fall 2016 Semester

Documentary Film Institute Internships

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DocFilm interns working at the McRoskey Mattress Co.

 

Terms of Internships: Fall 2016, meeting weekly. 120 hours to be completed during semester for 3-units of credit under supervision of DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens. 

How to Apply: Email brief letter of interest, summarizing your relevant skills and experience, to DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens at soumyaa@sfsu.edu

Qualified applicants will be invited for an initial group interview.

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Production Intern (1 opening)

Description of Internship: Work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: lighting setup, studio and field shooting, sound recording, archiving, and transcribing. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. May be asked to assist with setup for Poetry Center events, some of which may be off campus. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Applicants that enjoy fast paced working environments and are willing to take initiative, think on their own are encouraged to apply.

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 Social Media and Administrative Intern (1 openings)

Description of Internship: Identify and cultivate key social media relationships. Find opportunities for grants and partnerships. Work on various administrative tasks. Research and develop tactics and strategies DocFilm can adopt to build brand awareness and strong partnerships in the Bay Area. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on grant writing and research. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities

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Post-Production Intern (2 openings) 

This semester we are looking for 1 position to be focused on story editing, and another to focus on motion graphics and animation.

Description of Internship: Post-production work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries to include organizing footage, developing rough cuts with feedback from DF admin and various constituents, and motion graphics as needed. Applicants should be proficient with the Premiere Pro CC suite on a Mac OS platform, have experience editing short or feature length documentaries and have strong word processing skills. Highly organized applicants who can manage large amounts of assets and are willing to take initiative and think on their own are encouraged to apply. Applicants should feel comfortable with taking notes/feedback from the Director and Producers, which can then be translated into new cuts for viewing. Applicant may be asked to work occasionally on shoots operating camera and/or sound recorder, and to assist with production of annual screening of new VDC films.

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Producer / Research Assistant (1 opening)

Description of Internship: Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work can include assistance with producing of various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: editing, shooting, sound recording, archiving, transcribing as well as distribution, marketing and budgeting. Research focused on current non-fiction journals and conferences, identifying trends, topics, guests, etc. Research focused on development of future projects including but not limited to: Non-fiction Film Conference, TEDX event and the DocFilm Forum. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities.

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 SFSU Poetry Center – Potential for year long appointment

Production / Post-Production (1 opening: paid position $15/hour)

 Videographer / Editor for Poetry Center Live Reading Series & Digital Archive

Under the supervision of DocFilm Director Soumyaa Behrens, the videographer is responsible for attending and recording all scheduled Poetry Readings in the renowned Poetry Center Reading Series. Dates are as follows:

  • September 8 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • September 15 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • September 24 7:00pm – McRoskey Mattress Co. (off campus)
  • September 29 7:00pm – SFSU Fine Arts Gallery
  • October 6 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • October 9 5:30pm – ATA (O.C.)
  • October 20 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • October 27 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
  • Nov – Dec Dates TBD

Using digital technology, the videographer will record each reading, add bumpers and credits as well as perform basic editing (color correction and sound mix) and tag files to conform with protocols developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology for ingesting recordings into SFSU’s Digital Information Virtual Archive (DIVA).

Duties:

  • Attend Poetry Center Events for purpose of creating video documentation of performances.
  • Export raw video masters (archival file) for each performance.
  • Export separate audio (MP3) file from video masters.
  • Create MP4 distribution copy with bumpers, credits, light editing.
  • Tag and label files in accordance with guidelines developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology.
  • Create select short (2 min) videos of “highlights” at each event for Poetry Center communications and promotions.
  • Transfer master and completed edited files to DIVA within one week of original recording date.
  • Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with DocFilm staff to report and problem solve potential issues encountered in course of completing duties.

 

HOW A FILM GROWS: PROJECT UPDATE FROM “MADAME MARS”

Documentaries are famously long-duration projects.

In most cases there is an initial concept, a treatment or story outline, perhaps with bullet points or a list of potential interviewees. There is most likely a stated purpose, a point of view, and a hopeful outcome in mind, but no fixed script – the story evolves over time.

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Jan Millsapps, Writer-Director
Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond  

 

Producers and directors find themselves spending months, years, locating and managing resources, gaining (and sometimes losing) access to vital subjects, engaging in considerable research (nobody wants to tell an incomplete or incorrect story), viewing and reviewing recorded material for its on-screen value, and juggling categories of subject matter to determine what belongs in the finished film and what does not.

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Our first shoot: preschoolers at Chabot Space and Science Center creating their own solar system and performing as planets, asteroids, comets and the sun. This young woman played Mars.

The Madame Mars project began with a focus on women and Mars with the stated purpose of ensuring girls’ and women’s roles in future space science, space tech and space exploration. Forty-two interviews later – shot in eleven locations, resulting in more than a hundred hours of footage – we find ourselves immersed in editing, a gargantuan task made of many small, tentative steps, quite a few missteps and subsequent corrections, a few giant leaps of faith, and months of hard, hard work.

Documentary filmmakers must often search over time for their story, constructing and assessing many mental, paper and digital edits, identifying themes and connections that eventually solidify the concept into a coherent form, and determining the best way to present the material.

Eventually the footage begins to speak its own story; when that occurs, filmmakers must listen carefully.

The Madame Mars story that has emerged is bigger than women and Mars: it is a voiced commitment to ensure that humanity fully and accurately represents itself as we take our next big step into the universe. At the same time the story is smaller: from the hours of interviews, we believe we have found the voices that best represent our collective quest for futures in space that are representative of all of us here on Earth.

We have been fortunate to meet and talk to many from diverse backgrounds. Did we interview everyone on our initial list? Not by a long shot. But we feel confident that the characters you will see onscreen not only share the individual dream for finding one’s own place in space, but also a commitment to the larger goal of furthering human exploration of Mars – and worlds beyond.

Mars looms large over our story, a continuous presence in our collective consciousness from the earliest days of the space age, now extending far into our real, virtual and imagined off-world futures. Like all of those yearning for a red planet encounter, we are poised to see the fulfillment of our own Mars dream, as we take the final steps of our long, long journey.

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We welcome Sreang Hok – better known as “C” – the Madame Mars team (seen here working with DocFilm’s Robert Barbarino). As he completes his thesis film at SF State, C will also guide us toward a final edit. 

Production/Post-Production Intern: Jumana Zahid

Interview by DocFilm Social Media Intern, Leslie Calderon

Photo Credit: Jumana Zahid

Jumana Zahid, 21, is an international student at San Francisco State University, preparing to graduate in Summer 2016 with a major in Broadcasting and Electronic Communication Art and a minor in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism. Zahid’s passion for visual arts, colors, and aesthetics brought her to San Francisco from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at age 17.

What inspired you to study in San Francisco?

In high school we had a science project. I decided to take an extra step towards it and make a movie, instead of a presentation. I loved the whole process; I loved it all the way through. Since then I knew I wanted to do something with media, visuals, cinematography and what not.

I started college thinking I wanted to be an anchor/reporter. I got into it my first year and decided it wasn’t for me. I shifted my gears around. News I didn’t like—it’s type of production. I stepped out of that and started doing videos and short productions. For the time being I’m going to be experimenting with all sorts of media until I know where to land eventually.

What was your transition to America like?

I feel like I was well-oriented when I came out here. It was easy for me to shape myself around the environment and get myself acquainted with the lifestyle. Thankfully I had the language. Watching tv helped. Growing up, I loved watching tv. I loved how colorful it was.

My mom always complained about me watching so much tv, “You will ruin your eyes Jumana. You will end up wearing glasses” — I eventually wore glasses, but I learned a lot about the culture and language itself. I’m glad that I did, because I feel more comfortable and in place now.

Which movies or tv shows helped you learn English?

I watched a lot of Disney and Pixar movies. They helped me learn, not only the language, but also to grasp the culture from a young age. My favorite movie was The Jungle Book.

Recently, I’ve been really interested in watching international films and documentaries. It gives me another perspective of how things go. There are plenty of things happening in the world that people aren’t realizing—things that I’m not necessarily aware of. I try to take myself on international trips by watching these films.

Did you experience culture shock coming to America?

When I first came out here, surprisingly, I didn’t have a culture shock. Only when I went back home, one year after, I felt it, I felt the difference. I grew up in another country and didn’t realize how different it was from where I would end up. Two places that are so different from one another, it’s hard to even compare.

It’s pretty much a life changing experience living out here. I always go back to the starting point and think “My god Jumana! You’ve been through a lot, and you’re still going.” I’m very proud of myself!

Do you ever feel homesick?

For the first three years I did not feel homesick, not for a second. I was so happy with where I was. I didn’t care about the problems I was facing just by living out here; I had a solution for everything. In my fourth year, it hit me. I realized I missed my family. I missed belonging to a bigger circle of people with so much love.

Also, I started to see my family grow. I didn’t realize that until I went back home last year. My brother was 11 when I left and now he’s a teenager with a raspy, wanna-be man voice. It’s like, “Who are you? You’re even growing a mustache now.”

I felt emotionally separated. My family was growing, but without me. I would see pictures and look at them as an outsider. It’s sad because I could’ve been there for the small moments: birthdays, hospital visits, picnics. But you know what? I know that eventually I’ll go back home and create new memories.

 

DocFilm Intern Interview: DAEWON KIM

Interview by DocFilm Social Media Intern, Timothy Winslow

1.Where are you from?
I’m from Seoul, South Korea.

2. What year are you in here at SFSU?
My first year at SFSU is 2010. I finished BA at 2013 and now, I’m 2nd year MFA student.

3. What are you majoring in and why?
My major is Cinema and the reason why I choose it because of a film, Duel (1971) which is directed by Steven Spielberg. When I was just ten years old, I watched the film and this film led me to the career path of becoming a filmmaker. An inanimate tanker truck was turned into a lively character, and as a young audience, I felt the infinite power of film.

4. What are your responsibilities in DocFilm?
I’m mainly editing footages for DocFilm.

5. Are you working on any other projects?
Currently, I’m making my own thesis film.

6. What do you hope to get out of interning for DocFilm?
I love to meet people and talk with people. It leads me to make a good connection.

7. Are there any documentaries you’d recommend?
I trust that a main purpose of documentaries is entertainment and delivering message. This is why I like Michael Moore’s documentaries. He is the person who makes documentaries as entertainment because of his cinematic language and humorous and his topics are always interested me.

Thank you, Daewon.

 

Call for interns: Spring 2016

Documentary Film Institute Internships

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Terms of Internships: Spring 2016, meeting weekly. 120 hours to be completed during semester for 3-units of credit under supervision of DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens.

How to Apply: Email brief letter of interest, summarizing your relevant skills and experience, to DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens at soumyaa@sfsu.edu

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Production / Post-Production Intern (3 openings)

Description of Internship: Work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: editing, shooting, sound recording, archiving, transcribing as well as distribution, marketing and budgeting. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Applicants should have experience with Final Cut, Premiere Pro and should know their way around a Mac as well as basic lighting and camera. Applicants that enjoy fast paced working environments and are willing to take initiative, think on their own are encouraged to apply.

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Social Media and Administrative Intern (2 openings)

Description of Internship: Identify and cultivate key social media relationships. Find opportunities for grants and partnerships. Work on various administrative tasks. Research and develop tactics and strategies DocFilm can adopt to build brand awareness and strong partnerships in the Bay Area. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on grant writing and research. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities

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Post-Production / Production Intern Opportunity (2 openings)

Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond

Description of Internship: Post-production work for the DocFilm project Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond, to include organizing footage and working to bring a rough assembly of the feature length doc (Madame Mars) to a rough cut over the semester. Applicants should be proficient with the Premiere Pro CC suite on a Mac OS platform, have experience editing short or feature length documentaries and have strong word processing skills. Highly organized applicants who can manage large amounts of assets and are willing to take initiative and think on their own are encouraged to apply. Applicants should feel comfortable with taking notes/feedback from the Director and Producers, which can then be translated into new cuts for viewing. Applicant will be asked to work occasionally on shoots operating camera and/or sound recorder.

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Non-Fiction Journal/Conference Research Assistant (1 opening)

Description of Internship: Research focused on current non-fiction journals and conferences, identifying trends, topics, guests, etc. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on research and development of a new non-fiction film journal and conference. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities

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Additional Opportunity:

Spring 2016: Independent Study opportunity

Content creation, Love Boat: Taiwan documentary film, directed and produced by Valerie Soe

Love Boat: Taiwan, a feature-length documentary, examines the allure of one of the longest running summer programs in the world. Love Boat: Taiwan explores the lives of the program’s participants and looks at the history and popularity of this well-known program, which is sponsored by the Taiwanese government and which takes place every summer in Taiwan. Despite its high-minded aspirations that include classes in Mandarin-language study, martial arts, and brush painting, the program’s popularity stems from another source: its reputation as an excellent place for college-aged Taiwanese Americans and other overseas Chinese to hook up and find romance. Because of this, although it does not take on a ship and is landlocked at a conference center in Taipei, the program is more commonly known by its romantic nickname – the Taiwan Love Boat.

Love Boat: Taiwan is looking for two or more independent study students and interns to help create content for a crowdfunding campaign. Students will edit short videos, create online slide shows, and write short blurbs during the campaign. Successful applicants will need to commit to 45-50 hours total in Spring 2016 (late Jan- mid May 2016). Interns can apply for independent study credits for up to four units for the semester.

Primary Duties and responsibilities:

Assist with crowd funding content creation

  • Edit short videos
  • Create online slide shows
  • Write short blurbs

Required skills and abilities:

  • Proficiency in video editing software (Premiere or Final Cut Pro)
  • Proficiency in online slide show creation
  • Strong communication and writing skills
  • Knowledge of MS Office programs
  • Web savvy
  • Detail and deadline oriented
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Proactive, focused problem-solving (macro and micro attention)
  • Reliable, committed, and trustworthy

Extra-desirable qualities:

  • Familiar with Mac
  • Have a valid CA driver’s license (having your own car is a plus but not necessary)
  • Mandarin-language skills
  • familiarity with the Taiwanese American community

Please send an email addressing your relevant experience, why you would like to work on Love Boat: Taiwan’s content creation campaign, and what you hope to achieve.

Send materials to vsoe@sfsu.edu

Accepting applications immediately. Positions open until filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DocFilm and Poetry Center collaborate to Archive Readings

Eight Occasions, September–October 2015, Part 1

“I think we can… you can sort of talk generally about the forms of life: birth and death, and need for sustenance, and language, and breathing and all that. But nobody has the right to say how it is for anybody else. That’s a luxury that no one has.”

Paul Ebenkamp, October 1, 2015

The first eight Poetry Center programs that took place this Fall 2015 are each now available as professionally recorded streaming video documents (with downloadable audio files) at Poetry Center Digital Archive. This is the first time in the 62-year history of The Poetry Center that we’ve been able to make what we do so readily available to people beyond the live audience, present in the room. The work is posted online quickly, it can be seen and/or heard by anyone on the planet with an internet connection, it comes at no direct cost to the viewer, and it looks and sounds great.

Here’s how our new archival situation works. We’ve initiated an arrangement with the Documentary Film Institute (a.k.a. DocFilm) at SF State, and  we’ve hired one of their best graduate students in Cinema, Russ Kiel, out of Atlanta, who’s becoming known within the program as a valued cinematographer. Russ is charged with recording each video, working with sound correction and minimal editing, selecting brief video “highlights” from each program (clips anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes), saving archive-quality uncompressed video files plus an MP4 version readied for streaming, preparing comparable audio files, and forwarding each finished program to our partners at DIVA — where some fifteen collections based at San Francisco State are housed and made publicly accessible online. Meanwhile in the background, Poetry Center staff are generating catalog notes on each program to accompany the new video and audio documents. We’ve been working with Kimberly Gomes, graduate student in Creative Writing, our Associate Director Elise Ficarra, and myself, to write and edit helpful and accurate notes: metadata. The video highlights, with descriptive captions, get posted at DocFilm’s Vimeo page (accessible in sequence at our Vimeo channel: Poetry Center Video Highlights) and are publicized via the Poetry Center Facebook page. The finished programs are posted, under the heading Current Season, at our dedicated online collection, Poetry Center Digital Archive.

As of November 22, just two months after our initial program went online, our first eight videos have been played 1,757 times. Just under 100 people have downloaded audio versions of these eight programs. I like the audio option: it’s a fairly unique aspect of our Digital Archive. Audio’s easy to play on earbuds or in the car, the files are small enough to keep, and — since for everything we post online we’ve secured Creative Commons Atrribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licensing — people can do pretty much what they like with the audio: remix it, play it on non-commercial radio, create animations, splice it into “mixtapes,” etc. As long as you don’t start charging anybody for it, the audio is free to use and re-use. So is the video: show it in classes, at parties, impress your friends.

A quick view of the first four of these eight programs, eight occasions:

  1. David Meltzer: September 24, 2015

     

    Brilliant anthologist, autodidact, jazz head, musician, teacher, poet, David Meltzer reads from and discusses the newly revised and reissued edition of his book Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook (City Lights Books, 2015), a kind of “book of books” culled from avid reading, mostly in the deep shelves of UC Berkeley’s Dow Library, from the days before they buried it under the landscape, when ordinary folks could still roam the stacks at will and stumble on the unfound. We also convinced him to read some poems from his early book Harps (Oyez, 1975), and David’s Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer (ed. Michael Rothenberg, Penguin Poets, 2005). Clips include the opening and a later excerpt from Two-Way Mirror, and a reading of “Lamentation / for Jack Spicer,” an on-the-spot eulogy from 1965.

     

     

  2. Katy Bohinc and Paul Ebenkamp: October 1, 2015

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  3. Michael Gizzi’s Collected Poems, a Celebration: October 2, 2015

History Reimagined: The Story of Abina Mansah

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History is an infinite collection of truths that are known and truths that are hidden, destroyed, forgotten, silenced or ignored.  The modern day historian has the complicated task of setting the stage for society to understand the tales of our past that are well recounted as well as those that are missing.  And, while we cannot actually reach into the past and change it, we can restructure its meaning and shape by bringing forward true stories that were once left out.

History Professor Trevor Getz has done just that, authoring a graphic novel that tells the true story of Abina Mansah, a slave girl on Africa’s Gold Coast in the 1800’s who took her master to court for enslaving her.  Based on the transcripts of her actual trial, Abina and The Important Men, brings to center stage the tale of one young woman’s attempt to not only gain freedom but also justice in a very cruel world.

Abina did not win her case.  She wanted her voice to be heard but it was not…until now.   Now Abina’s story can be sounded across the world in the form of a book, a film and there is even going to be an app for that.  Abina did not realize the power of her actions at the time but her efforts paved the way for the world we have today.  Getz remarks, “The Abina project has always been about amplifying the voice of a young, enslaved, African woman who refused to quiet down in the face of systematic denigration.  Film allows us to bring her words and strength to a much larger audience.”

Getz’s novel has received much praise and was awarded the James Harvey Robinson prize from the American Historical Association.  Now, Getz has teamed with DocFilm and Yudu to breathe new life into this work by creating a sound and motion film of Abina’s story that will anchor a new app for history students across the country.  This innovative collaboration hopes to set a new trend in education.  By resurrecting Abina’s story via graphic novel, film and in a digital application, students can engage, interact and empathize with the story deeply and meaningfully.  This model creates a modern experience infused with essential lessons about personal biography, slavery, colonialism and the enlightenment.

Getz says, “The African great novelist and film-maker Sembene Ousmane said, years ago, that film is the medium of the people.  I like to think that making Abina’s story available in film will allow her story and words to reach an audience of people who can sympathize with and understand her experiences and their meaning.”

Created with the time and talent of San Francisco State University students, staff, faculty and support, Abina and The Important Men is also an example of the kind of bold thinking that distinguishes our university from the rest.  Slated for completion in early 2016, the Abina App will premiere in classrooms in the Fall of the same year.

written by, Soumyaa Behrens

 

trvorTrevor R. Getz is Professor of African History at San Francisco State University.  He has published in the fields of world history, the history of imperialism and colonialism, and heritage studies.  His principal focus is on the slavery and emancipation in nineteenth century West Africa.  His most recent book on this topic, Abina and the Important Men, won the James Harvey Robinson prize from the American Historical Association.  He edits the Oxford University Press African World Histories series and is currently working on a primer for teaching African History for Duke University Press as well as co-editing a collected work on slavery and emancipation in Ghana with Rebecca Shumway for Bloomsbury Press.

Presenting Madame Mars, A DocFilm Production

The DocFilm Institute is thrilled to announce our expanded partnership with Cinema Professor Emeritus Jan Millsapps on her upcoming feature documentary, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond.  This film emerged amid the growing public enthusiasm about the multiple missions in the works to send humans to Mars.   The project intends to inspire and motivate young women who have the talent and skills to work in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  The film will also excite, enthrall and educate every audience member about the impact women have already had on space science, specifically the contributions they have made to our knowledge of the red planet.

Watch the Madame Mars trailer here!

womenprotestNU (1)Did you know that women were forbidden from looking through the world’s major telescopes until the middle of the twentieth century?  This and other eyebrow raising facts are uncovered and explored in this film.

The Madame Mars team has interviewed women working as planetary scientists, astronauts, engineers, space doctors, astrobiologists, Mars climatologists, and a “planetary protector” working to keep Mars safe from Earthly contamination – and vice versa. The team has found young women preparing for careers in space science and the accomplished female scientists who mentor and inspire them.   They have followed a diverse, international group of women competing for a one-way ticket to Mars as part of the Mars One project to colonize this new world for humans.  The film also dives into the mythical aspects of the planet, exploring science fiction and folklore from a decidedly feminist angle.

womenonISSNUOne issue that is not mythical in any way is how many young women and girls are discouraged from entering the STEM fields.  Several studies including the 2011, “Why So Few?  Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” have collected data that demonstrates there is a huge drop off in interest from young women around the middle school age.  This can be attributed to the stereotypical gender roles that are obviously and subconsciously placed on females in this age group.  As they grow older these ideas persist and young women often feel left out, discriminated against and generally influenced not to take part in these types of careers.  Women who do rise up and take on the challenges of a STEM career report major successes but do not describe their paths as easy, or one that was buoyed by their fellow STEM peers.  However, a recent study by Cornell University suggests that the tides are changing for women in STEM.  Their findings in a 2015 study say that Universities who hire professors in these fields report a new leaning towards the hiring of women in STEM positions.

Now in post-production, Madame Mars is set for completion in 2016.  DocFilm has brought on a team of interns to start sorting through the footage that has been collected.  A big thank you to these Cinema Grads and Undergrads: Sookyong Kwok, Sam Gershwin and Bryan Petrass.  Once complete, the project will also traverse beyond the big screen onto smaller ones in classrooms, nonprofits and individual’s homes with transmedia games, apps and will feature a robust educational curriculum designed to activate girls who have an interest in STEM to thrive in those fields.  Stay tuned for more news on this project as it takes its final shape and prepares for take-off.

Filmmaker Info:

JanMillsapps

Jan Millsapps, Ph.D., is a veteran filmmaker and pioneering figure in the new media movement. She has produced digital and interactive cinema on subjects ranging from domestic violence to global terrorism. A versatile and accomplished writer, she has written two space-themed novels and is a featured blogger on the Huffington Post. She is Professor Emeritus of Cinema at San Francisco State University, where she taught courses in digital cinema, interactive cinema, web cinema and short format screenwriting. She earned her B.A. with honors in Creative Arts at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; her M.A. in English at Winthrop University; and her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Carolina. She also holds an academic certificate in cosmology from the University of Central Lancashire in England.