Category Archives: DocFilm

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,, (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

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



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


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.


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


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.


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


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

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


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.


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.”


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. 

The 2014 SCMS Annual Conference is Here!

seattle-header2 (1)

By: Taylor LoNigro
March 19, 2014

Today marks the first day of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies Annual Conference held in Seattle from March 19 through March 23.  The five-day conference includes screenings, forums, panels, and LOTS of networking that movie and media buffs in academia get to experience.

Every year in the springtime the SCMS conference takes place in a different location in the U.S., making each gathering a unique experience. Cinema and media scholars and teachers alike from all over the nation are provided the opportunity to develop their talent and teachings, promote their work, and network. It really is an amazing opportunity to expand the knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of those in the academic world.

If you are attending the conference, look out for our cinema staff members Daniel Bernardi, Randy Rutsky, Aaron Kerner, Bill Nichols, Lindsey Payne and Michael A. Behrens who are lucky enough to be participating in the workshops and forums provided.

Not only will our staff members be reveling in conference activites, some are actually contributing to it. On Saturday, Bill Nichols will be hosting the Perversion, Transgression, and Cinema workshop; you can catch Aaron Kerner teaching the forum Japanese Cinema on Sunday; and Lindsey Payne will be on the Queer Girls on Film panel on Saturday.

A few other workshops that seem particularly interesting, at least to myself, include Film, Media, and the Right to the City; What’s Happening Now? –Black Film in Genre in the Age of Obama; and Studying Media Event Spaces. If you are at the conference this year, or would like to just get a feel of what it’s all about, check out the entire program online here.

There are always new people to meet and new techniques to be learned, and the SCMS conference is a great opportunity and outlet for just that. I am looking forward to hearing about our faculty and staff members’ experiences from the conference when they get back, and I’m sure you are too!

Big Success for Veteran Documentary Corps at the Castro Theatre


Photo by Shuntaro Ogata

Name Taylor LoNigro
Date March 12, 2014

On Tuesday, February 11, our staff at DocFilm Institute, SF State, and the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) premiered the 7:00pm screening of the Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC) project at the Castro Theatre to a receptive and large crowd. Seven new, short documentaries were presented, delving into the experiences of veterans ranging from WWII all the way up to our current issues in the Middle East. We were truly happy and proud to be a part of the success that the night brought.

Veteran Documentary Corps, a non-profit organization founded in 2011, empowers filmmakers and veterans from all over the world to relay their true stories to other veterans and global citizens alike. It is VDC’s goal to develop a greater understanding of veteran experience via filmmaking.

Preceding the screening, a jam-packed reception was held on the mezzanine level of the theatre where guests were able to enjoy a glass of wine and hors ‘d’oeuvres. Notable attendees included San Francisco Film Society’s Board President David Winton and Board members Melanie Blum and Penelope Wong, University of San Francisco President Rev. Stephen A. Privett, SF State’s Provost Sue Rosser, filmmaker David Arnold, CEO of Charles Schwab Investments Marie Chandoha, President of the San Francisco YMCA Chuck Collins, as well as 600 guests, students, and faculty.

“I found the event extraordinarily successful,” Sue Rosser said proudly. “Not only was each of the films very well done, but every seat in the theatre was taken and occupied from an amazing mix of veterans, San Francisco Film Society folks, government leaders, as well as students and faculty from a variety of educational institutions, including SF State. The event very effectively showcased the outstanding work of SFSU’s cinema department.”

The hour-long screening featured the highlighted veterans Casey Conklin, Aldo Giannini, Tim Kochis, Zoe Dunning, Giorgio Mattia, Julie Mendez, Michael Blackwell, John Baumhackl, and David Delgadillo. The documentaries touched on some of the heart-wrenching and personal war struggles and successes these veterans faced during their time at war.

vdc 2

Photo by Shuntaro Ogata

Daniel Bernardi, DocFilm’s Executive Director and the founder of the VDC project directed the films on Tim Kochis (Vietnam War) and Michael Blackwell (Iraq War). Daniel is an Iraq War veteran and active in the Naval Reserves. Blackwell served alongside Daniel in the U.S. Iraq War as a combat camera photographer. After the event I caught up with Daniel, this is what he had to say about the launch.

“I was overjoyed,” said Bernardi. “The opportunity to tell these stories on the big screen at the Castro was a dream come true and the community support was amazing. It truly takes a village”.

Following the screening, the audience had the chance to interact with select filmmakers and featured veterans during an onstage panel led by Michael Behrens, Managing Director of DocFilm and producer of several of the documentaries. The panel included Daniel Bernardi, Casey Conklin, Zoe Dunning, John Giannini, and Tim Kochis; they answered multiple questions and discussed the films in a little more depth. We asked Michael about what it was like working on the project and screening at the Castro.

“It is always a pleasure to stand on the Castro stage,” said Behrens. “Of all that we do at DocFilm, this project means a great deal to me. I love helping people tell their stories, and empowering veterans is very important.”

Not only was the screening an enjoyable evening in the theatre, it was great opportunity to learn about veterans’ issues as well as their personal hardships and triumphs. The panel also touched on the high rate of veteran suicides. According to a study by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, the percentage of veterans who die by suicide has decreased since 1999, while the estimated total numbers of veterans who have died as a result of suicide increased as a whole.

It is absolutely fascinating hearing their stories. At Doc Film we are proud to be a part of the VDC project and love working with the veterans. It took a lot of hard work from everyone on the project and we are exceptionally thankful for those who participated.

Next on our agenda is the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference. Taking place in Seattle from Wednesday, March 19 to Sunday, March 23 this year, the conference provides an interactive forum for teachers and scholars in the film and media industry where they can learn more about the industry, present research, collaborate, and network among other conference goers. It is an educational opportunity where people around the nation can congregate to share experiences as well as create new ones. Our cinema faculty and staff members Daniel Bernardi, Michael Behrens, Randy Rutsky, and Aaron Kerner, as well as many SFSU students and alumni, will travel to the Evergreen State to participate in the Society’s conference. With all the creative minds that will be attending, I can’t wait to hear about their shared experiences.

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