Category Archives: DocFilm

The Need for Niche: Re-thinking a Film’s Festival Circuit

Traversing the Niche Festival Market

Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet along with Abina and the Important Men will screen at niche driven festivals in Napa Valley and Toronto, Canada this month.  Con Moto looks at the tradition of chamber music as lived by the world famous Alexander String Quartet as they travel through Poland.  Abina is an animated film adapted from the award-winning graphic novel about a young woman who escapes slavery and takes her master to court in West Africa during the late 1800’s.  The distribution of these films is an eye-opening education in the vital role niche festivals play in the life of films that are made on the fringes of the mainstream.

There is an evident and clear need for alternative spaces for films operating in niche categories, genres and content.  They create important discussions with their respective communities. A film’s life through the festival circuit varies widely from years past.  As Daryl Chin and Larry Qualls note, the possibilities are many as “we are living in a time of developing alternatives. Though the hegemony of the commercial industry remains, there are fringe activities and new models for exhibition, distribution, and dissemination.” We must be aware of alternative possibilities that exist on the “fringe” especially considering new modes of storytelling and content historically pushed to the margins are becoming more and more part of the conversation in the mainstream, in form and content.

“Con Moto” & “Abina” Laurels

The landscape of festivals is much different considering the proliferation of niche markets and stories emerging from minority and marginalized communities. The remapping of festival options for a film has aided in the “survival of the phenomenon of film festivals,” and helped retain the festival space as, “a zone, a liminal state, where the cinematic products can bask in the attention they receive for their aesthetic achievements, cultural specificity, or social relevance” (Marijke de Valck). I would extend these thoughts to speak directly to the opportunities created through the niche and fringe festival markets. From the perspective of content that represents peoples and histories ignored in mainstream outlets, or discussions about the direction of form and new media, these niche environments help support and encourage storytelling to challenge the status quo. This provides agency to voices and filmmakers who are now finding outlets, gaining traction and proving a need for diverse storytelling.

CASE STUDIES

This profound diversity in the festival scene is something we are witness to. We develop relationships and attend festivals that may not ordinarily cross our virtual path. Con Moto had early success in two online film festivals, an option with growing strength and one that speaks to global audiences. Con Moto is also an example of a film that can bridge art forms that may not typically intersect. We have been able to screen this film in conjunction with chamber music performances and events. Screening in this manner speaks to specific audiences and gives the film opportunity to thrive in curated spaces.

With Abina being adapted from a graphic novel, it has the ability to screen in chapters – as a series – or from start to finish as a feature. This connects nicely with festivals seeking to draw out discussions surrounding new media in storytelling. This is in addition to the rich history the film and graphic novel explores. Raindance created a Webfest and VR Arcade to the expand the main festival in recent years, speaking to the power and importance of emerging niche markets, and we were inspired that Abina could contribute to that dialogue and interaction.  The programmer’s thoughtful approach was not only inclusive but also bold, adding Abina to a documentary program as the only animated film in the bunch.

Soumyaa @ Raindance FF

GATEKEEPERS

It’s not just the makers but the programmers who are making this revolution happen.  Without alternative thinkers who are gatekeepers to exhibition, these smaller films would not reach the audiences they are now being connected to.

DocFilm held its first conference last year, Pluralities, on the expanded state of documentary including a panel on niche distribution led by Susie Hernandez from KQED. This panel featured an insightful dialogue with Masashi Niwano from the Center for Asian American Media, Daniel Moretti from Frameline and Marc Smolowitz Independent Producer extraordinaire of 13th Gen.

They discussed both festival cycles, but also the varied and unique options a film has in distribution. They also pointed out that as access to content becomes more democratized and varied films will need to reflect these diversified audiences and their backgrounds.

We are encouraged to see the direction our industry is headed, as the panel, who represent highly diverse backgrounds, are in positions that serve as gatekeepers to exhibition. It makes abundantly clear that terms examined here – niche and fringe – should now and forward be considered on their own volition rather than in deference to any commodified mainstream or homogenized market.

Pluralities Panel on Niche Distribution: Led by Susie Hernandez KQED

 

UPCOMING SCREENINGS

Coming up, Con Moto and Abina have been announced as Official Selections for upcoming festivals, The Classical Arts Film Festival and The Toronto Black Film Festival.

Con Moto has the privilege of opening the festival with the feature-length documentary Beautifully Scary. Operating to promote the classical arts the Jarvis Conservatory is in its third year as host of this festival. These two films will start the conversation on the importance of the arts, inspiration, and education. If you can join us, Soumyaa and I will be in attendance and will participate in a Q&A after the screening.

The Alexander String Quartet & DocFilm Crew in Poland

Finally, Abina and the Important Men is thrilled to be among the films at this year’s Toronto Black Film Festival. Speaking further to the specific way films are being programmed and ultimately shared with a community, Abina will be part of the TBFF Kids Film Festival. This selection of films aim to inspire and empower children through the discovery of filmmaking, animation, story-telling and more. This is especially exciting as Abina was adapted to exist supplementally as an educational tool in high-school history curriculum. This provides yet another opportunity for Abina to be viewed through a new, yet equally important, lens.

Quoted Content:

  1. Chin, Daryl, and Larry Qualls. “Open Circuits, Closed Markets: Festivals and Expositions of Film and Video.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, vol. 23, no. 1, 2001, p. 33. Project MUSE [Johns Hopkins UP], doi:10.2307/3246488.
  2. “Film Festivals from European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia.” Film Festivals from European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia, by Marijke de. Valck, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 30.

#documentary #filmfestival #Abinaandtheimportantmen #ConMoto #CAAM #Frameline #13th Gen #KQED #ClassicalArtsFilmFestival #TorontoBlackFilmFestival #TheAlexanderStringQuartet #Animation #Raindance #RaindanceWebFest #DocumentaryFilmInstitute #SFSU #SFStateLCA

Pluralities Nonfiction Film Conference Full Schedule

***Announcement***

Join us NOV 8th and 9th at San Francisco State University for an exciting line-up of filmmakers, researchers, performance, VR, and discussion about all things nonfiction. We welcome Kim Nelson and her team from University of Windsor in Canada with their live doc project 130 Year Road Trip, Kelly Gallagher from Antioch College with panels and workshops on animation and resistance, Jason Fox from Princeton University to discuss his World Records journal published by Union Docs and presenters from across the Bay Area and beyond including a niche distribution panel with Susie Hernandez from KQED, Daniel Moretti of Frameline, Masashi Niwano with CAAM and producer Marc Smolowitz and the Munduruku VR Amazon experience created by Alchemy VR with Greenpeace.

Check out the full schedule. Attendance is FREE.

LOCATION: SEVEN HILLS CONFERENCE CENTER at SFSU

Register for your FREE tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pluralities-tickets-38158856166

FEATURED GUESTS

Kelly Gallagher is an experimental animator, filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Media Arts at Antioch College in Ohio. Her theoretical work investigates the radical and feminist possibilities of experimental animation. Her animations, experimental films and documentaries have screened internationally at venues including: Ann Arbor Film Festival, London ICA Artists’ Biennial, LA Film Forum, Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, and Anthology Film Archives. She is the recipient of the Ivan Kaljević Award from Alternative Film/Video Festival Belgrade, the Helen Hill Award from Indie Grits, the Audience Award from Brazil’s Fronteira Film Festival, and the Jury’s Choice Award from Black Maria Film Festival.

Kim Nelson is the Director of the Humanities Research Group and an Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor in Canada. Her work has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, the Windsor Endowment for the Arts and have screened at international film festivals and on university campuses in Canada, the US and Europe, as well as online with KCET in the US. Kim has held fellowships in Germany, Canada, and the US, and she has been a board member and programmer at the Windsor International Film Festival since 2010. Her current interest is in conceptualizing and creating live participatory cinema as an alternative future for screen culture.

Jason Fox is a filmmaker and lecturer at Princeton University. He has taught in the Graduate School of Cinema Studies at New York University, Vassar College, and Cooper Union. His award-winning work as a director, cinematographer, and editor has screened internationally in film festivals including Sundance, AFI Fest, and Venice, on broadcast television, and in gallery installation settings.  He has worked as a film programmer in conjunction with The American Museum of Natural History, The Flaherty Seminar, and the Museum of Modern Art, among other venues. He is a recipient of a Union Square Award for social justice, and he is also the founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal of documentary studies, World Records, published by UnionDocs in Brooklyn, NY.

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE – NOVEMBER 8th & 9th

Nov 8th & 9th – All Day

An Immersive VR Experience: Munduruku: The Fight to Defend the Heart of the Amazon

Combining cutting-edge Virtual Reality filmmaking and multisensory storytelling, Munduruku opens a window into the lives, stories and struggle of the Munduruku Indigenous People in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Wednesday, Nov 8th

9:00am: Coffee/Tea – All are welcome

9:10am-10:45am: In Resistance with Filmmaker Scholars

  • Kelly Gallagher (Antioch College): Animation as Power and Protest (working title)
  • Alexander Johnston (UC Santa Cruz): Evidence of Evidence
  • Kevin Pina (CSU, East Bay): Documenting Dissent

11:00am-12:00pm: Identity: Constructed, Deconstructed

  • Yuriko Romer (Independent Filmmaker): Diamond Diplomacy
  • Talena Sanders (Sonoma State University): Prospector
  • Nyssa Chow (Columbia University, NY): Still Life, A Digital Book

1:00pm-2:00pm: Consequences of Historical Rendering and Technology

  • Kim Nelson: Constructing a Historiophoty for/in the Digital Sublunar
  • Rob Nelson: Whether you Win or Lose, Bombing Civilians is Complicated: Strategies of Explanation in the Canadian and German Documentaries ‘Death by Moonlight’ (1992) and ‘Der Feuersturm’ (2003)

(Both from University of Windsor, Canada)

2:15pm-3:45pm: Innovation & Scholarship in Nonfiction Media Journals

  • Jason Fox: The Documentary Camera and World Records Journal, Princeton University
  • Alexander Johnston: Now!  Journal of Urgent Praxis
  • Soumyaa K. Behrens: Pluralities Journal, Documentary Film Institute
  • Kelly Gallagher: Now!  Journal of Urgent Praxis

3:45pm-4:15pm: Short Reception – Everyone welcome to attend

4:15pm-5:45pm: Emergent Stories: How Niche and Diaspora Films Impact Smaller Communities

  • Susie Hernandez from KQED
  • Masashi Niwano from Center for Asian American Media
  • Daniel Moretti from Frameline
  • Marc Smolowitz Independent Producer, 13th Gen

Thursday, Nov 9th

8:00am: Coffee/Tea – Everyone welcome to attend

8:20am-9:25am: Politics, Activism and Visibility in Golden Gate and Gezi Parks*

  • Cahal McLaughlin (Queens University Belfast): Introduction
  • Şirin Fulya Erensoy (Istanbul Kültür University): Documenting Injustice in a Time of Media Blackout
  • Soumyaa K. Behrens (SFSU): Nail House: Political Gentrification in San Francisco

* This panel is in collaboration with the Center for Documentary Research Conference at Queens University and will be conducted live and via Skype.

9:30am-11:00am: Small Hands-On Workshop with Kelly Gallagher

11:00am-12:20pm: Agency in Nonfiction: To Tell One’s Own Stories

  • Harjant Gill (Towson University): Exploring South Asian Masculinities Through Ethnographic Film
  • Emily Beitiks (SFSU): Documenting Disability
  • Aaron Dickinson Sachs (St. Mary’s College) & John Drew (Adelphi University): Cacao Stories, A Food Manifesto

2:10pm-3:45pm: 130 Year Road Trip (Performance, Live Documentary)

  • Kim Nelson, Rob Nelson, Lana Oppen, Brent Lee (University of Windsor)

3:45pm-5pm: Reception – All are welcome

7:30pm: Screening of Kelly Gallagher’s films at Artists Television Access

#pluralities #docfilminstitute #nonfiction #sfsu #130yearroadtrip #animateddocs #scholarfilmmaker #researchpractitioner #documentarydisrupted

Summer Screenings!

ABINA and THE IMPORTANT MEN

Mark your calendars for Doc Film’s summer screenings!  We are honored and excited to be included in the SF Black Film Festival!  Our animated feature, Abina and The Important Men, is an official selection of this year’s program.  The film screens at the beautiful Koret Auditorium in the deYoung Museum on June 16th at 6pm with Q/A and reception to follow.  Tickets for this event are free to encourage as many community members to attend as possible.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6pm-8pm-friday-koret-auditorium-de-young-museum-50-hagiwara-tea-garden-dr-tickets-34923927407

Abina tells the story of a young enslaved woman in Africa who takes her master to court under British Rule in the late 1800’s.  It is adapted from a graphic novel of the same name, authored by historian Trevor Getz and illustrated by Liz Clarke.  The book is based on Abina’s actual court transcripts and was awarded the James Harvey Robinson prize.  The film is voiced by students, faculty and staff of SFSU representing Theatre, Cinema, Music, Ethnic Studies, Design & Industry, History, Administration and the Associated Students Inc.

Check out the trailer, too!

 

CON MOTO: The Alexander String Quartet

Later this summer, get your groove on with our Television premiere of Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet.  The film has screened at international festivals and airs on KQED’s Truly CA series on August 18th at 8pm.   Mark your calendars!

Con Moto follows the world-class musicians on the road in Poland as they play Beethoven and share their talents and legacy with Polish audiences.

Written by, Soumyaa K. Behrens

Barbara Hammer & Cheryl Dunye in Conversation

The legacy of the SFSU School of Cinema is nothing short of remarkable.  In our most recent forum, we had the opportunity to indulge in that history with film pioneer, Barbara Hammer, alumna and renegade of the Cinema program.  The juicy dialogue led by another SFSU Cinema phenom, Cheryl Dunye, wrapped up Hammer’s visit to campus and master class with aspiring graduate and undergraduate students in the program.

docfilm forum title card

Students take part in the conversation, populating the studio audience and posing questions to Hammer and Dunye that are interesting and provocative.  Hammer and Dunye give generously of themselves and share their past experiences with incredible candor.  They don advice on shooting those intimate love scenes, share moments of questioning their own work and desires and ultimately land on the most important tool each one has to create and continue creating.  For Barbara, it was the Hammer and for Cheryl it was the Dun and the Ye.  All they need is all they have.  The uniqueness of their beings and the courage to reckon with themselves is what they rely upon – and that is all any artist needs to achieve her vision.

It was a delicious afternoon for all who were there.  But, if you weren’t, take a look at how it went down.

Barbara Hammer’s visit to SFSU was co-sponsored by The School of Cinema, The School of Art, Queer Cinema Institute, Documentary Film Institute and the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.  Hammer presented her new film, Welcome To This House to the SFSU community and general public.  She held a master class with graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Cinema and visited classes to view student work.  She was honored with the inaugural Barbara Hammer scholarship presented by the Queer Cinema Institute and won by John Edward Serafica (former DocFilm Intern Extraordinaire)

Written By Soumyaa K. Behrens

Open Access Publishing Hot Topic at #SCMS17

DocFilm just returned from this year’s SCMS (Society for Cinema and Media Studies) conference in the big old city of Chicago.  Not as gritty as I remember it from days past, Chicago is hip, happening, and operating at warp speed.  There were wireless “charging rings” for your devices in the coffee shops, not to mention mobile ordering and pick-up at Starbucks.  The smart elevators in the AON center whisked you up to the 80th so fast you got a bit of a head rush from it.  And, one of the most interesting discussions at this year’s event was also concerned with the inter-future of academic publishing, aka the open access model.

open access scms17 chicago

There were two workshops dedicated to the topic and a flurry of the biggest gatekeepers of profit, non-profit and alternative forms of book and journal publication as well as the new guard of revolutionary writers, bloggers and scholars who are aiming to democratize the system and a couple people who seem to fall in both of those categories… The big question at hand: is open access a revolutionary model or just another way for the major players to control the system?  Can it possibly be a sustainable form for sharing research without the traditional backing of book sales and publishers’ prestigious marquees?

There is a whirlwind of new websites out there with the explicit intention to share, share widely and share freely.  Things like Critical Commons, Film Studies for Free, Academia.edu, (in) media res, Lever Press and SCMS backed [in]Transition.  Many of these initiatives spun into being as a response to the Budapest Open Access Initiative which was first published (online) in 2002.  There are countless additional sites that uphold its vision for free access via the arts, sciences, humanities, and social disciplines.  This has also given way to multi-platform approaches to creating scholarship using live annotations, film and audio clips and other creative renderings to deepen the relationship between the reader and the researcher, speak to a more global audience and include non-academic writers who may have just as much to contribute to the conversation.

Sustainability remains the key challenge to this rebellious effort meant to level the playing field of academia and research as something reserved only for the intelligent elite.   Many of these websites have also closed up shop after burning out from handling every aspect of publication themselves due to little or no funding or simply been unable to raise the minimum amount needed to keep their initiative alive.  And, alive, on the internet, is a very real problem.  Outdated pages, expired links, journeys to Error 404 abound.  There’s nothing more stinky than a rotten internet corpse.  Without regular maintenance, a system or platform to retain embedded data and, of course, M-O-N-E-Y, these efforts all have an eventual end.  As Mary Francis of University of Michigan Press pointed out (she was a panelist and vocal audience member), less and less people have the need to publish as tenured positions at University are decreasing at a rapid pace and Universities are saving that cash by bringing on the dreaded “adjunct” faculty instead.  If there is no professional need to publish, what then?  She also stressed that the processes of the presses have not really changed.  Yes, they now sometimes offer an open access version of a book or journal but not much else has evolved.  She wondered if we are looking in the right place to resolve this issue of inclusion, access and democracy among academics.

With 2020 swiftly approaching, so does a new referendum by the European Union entitled Horizon2020.  All scientific research papers that are produced under publicly funded initiatives must be made available for free.   We will see who’s ready (and who’s not) to capitalize on this when the new decade dawns.   At DocFilm we are eager to take part in this dialogue and help facilitate it.  We are busily constructing programs, initiatives and strategic partnerships to launch our own open access, multi-media nonfiction journal (working title) Pluralities.  Using the engagement with the so-called real as a center, the journal will mesh theory and practice of nonfiction film, explicitly connect with other disciplines in hopes to visualize, digitize and democratize research, media, and innovative reflections on reality.

open access scms17 chicago

Many many thanks to the SCMS17 for hosting these workshops and the fascinating individuals who structured the conversation as well as those who participated in it.

Workshop G5: Film and Media Studies in the Digital Era

Chaired by Caroline Edwards with Jefferson Pooley, Katie Gallof and Anna Froula

Workshop N16: Open Access Book Publishing

Chaired by Eric Hoyt with Mary Francis, Nedda Ahmed, Vicki Mayer (whose open access book I just downloaded), Lea Jacobs and Ben Brewster

Both with extremely vocal and sometimes adversarial crowds to whom I am also grateful.

Written by Soumyaa K. Behrens, Photos by Robert Barbarino

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

DocFilm_Interview_41

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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

    10-01-2015_Bohinc-Ebenkamp still

     

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

History Reimagined: The Story of Abina Mansah

abina_and_the_important_men

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.

Successful year at SCMS Annual Conference 2014

By Taylor LoNigro
April 11, 2014

The Society for Cinema & Media Studies annual conference was a successful and invigorating time for the faculty members and SFSU students, both past and present, that attended this year’s event in Seattle! Not only did the SF State faculty and alumni get to enjoy the amenities of the conference, but the gathering also served as family reunion. The SCMS conference is an outlet to those in cinema and media studies to present screenings and projects, attend workshops and panels, and network.

Daniel Bernardi, Chair of the Cinema Department here at SF State, Director at DocFilm, and guest speaker at the SCMS conference, has been attending since the early 1990s and was truly impressed by this year’s event.

“This was one of the best years of the event because the organization has grown considerably and become far more forward-looking and professional,” said Bernardi.

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SF State staff/alumni reunion party hosted by Randy Rutsky, photo by Michael A. Behrens

With the presence of SF State alumni such as David Church, Kris Fallon, Clayton Dillard and many others, the SF State cinema department and master’s program has ample reason to be proud of its successful faculty and staff.

According to SF State cinema professor and SCMS attendee Aaron Kerner, one of the greatest challenges at the conference was the difficulty in choosing which events to attend out of the numerous options.

“If you are present at one, there are 15 other panels that you’re missing,” said Kerner. “It’s only possible to be in one place at a one time.”

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Daniel Bernardi hosting a workshop at the SCMS Annual Conference

Since so many panels and workshops were presented in the five-day event, Kerner explained that following specific themes and trends in certain panels made it easier to narrow down which ones to attend. A few of the topics that caught his attention were exploitation cinema, sexuality, and new distribution models.

Kerner also presented a video essay at the SCMS conference. To him, it’s easier to communicate more visual information through video. With all of our current technologies nowadays, filmmaking is much more accessible than it has been ever before.

If you are interested, check out the video essay Kerner presented here.

We’re so happy to hear that everyone in attendance of the conference truly enjoyed themselves and what the Society had to offer.