By Michael A. Behrens, Director DocFilm institute
November 4, 2012
The next DocFilm Forum explores methods of documenting the war experience with two very special guests. Join me for a conversation November 13 at 6:30 pm at SFSU’s Coppola Theater with Rory Fanning, author of the new book Worth Fighting for: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America and Daniel Bernardi, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at SFSU, Commander in the Naval Reserves and the Founder of Veteran Documentary Corps. Both Rory and Daniel have unique methods for decoding their experiences as combat veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is Rory’s first book documenting his walk across the US for the Pat Tillman Foundation after two deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion. Bernardi’s goal is to record the stories of 100 veterans by the end of 2016 in order to help give voice to the veteran experience and help build bridges between civilians and service men and women.
As the US continues to engage in conflicts around the world it becomes increasingly important to discuss and dissect both the experiences of veterans and the methods they deploy to understand and tell their stories. Fanning, who works for Haymarket Books in Chicago was recently quoted in an Op-Ed for TomDispatch, “Stop thanking me for my service, I’m tired of being blindly celebrated.” Civilians that do not understand the full implications of combat service often don’t know how to access and engage veterans and or how to process their experiences. Many of us are guided by what we see on television and in the news and do not have a clear sense of what these conflicts mean to the men and women that serve on our behalf. We fall victim to stereotypes and misleading information that further divides civilians and veterans. There is a big and diverse group of veterans in the US, each with their own unique story and reality. Both Daniel and Rory work hard to understand their own experiences and rather than celebrate the veteran experience help others unravel and process their time in combat. Their approaches help veterans and civilians alike deconstruct and digest the veteran experience so both groups can understand and learn from the conflicts the US involves itself in and take steps toward healing.
DocFilm Forum celebrates story telling and works hard to explore new forms for documenting the diverse stories that contributes to the human experience and pushes and stretches our ideas of what a documentaries are. November 13, we will hear Rory read excerpts from his book and look at new work from Daniel’s ongoing documentary project with a QandA and reception to follow. This is not a celebration or critique of the veteran experience but rather an exploration and ongoing discussion that helps bring civilians and veterans together in order to reveal the implications of sending men and women to war and welcoming them home again.
This event is free to the public. Please RSVP @ email@example.com
Buy Rory’s book here: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Worth-Fighting-For
“You set out on foot to find things that can be found no other way: your country, yourself, your sense of direction in the most practical and metaphysical selves. In this book Rory Fanning, a young soldier back from the wars, shares the results of his odyssey with those of us who have not walked 3000 miles through wild places and rough weather. His encounters with Americans who might be described as ordinary but are often extraordinary and with himself and the places and their historical backstories make great reading (and maybe most of us are on some version of this quest, whether we know it or not).”
—Rebecca Solnit, author of Wanderlust: A History of Walking
“Rory Fanning’s odyssey is more than a walk across America. It is a gripping story of one young man’s intellectual journey from eager soldier to skeptical radical, a look at not only the physical immenseness of the country, its small towns, and highways, but into the enormity of its past, the hidden sins and unredeemed failings of the United States. The reader is there along with Rory, walking every step, as challenging and rewarding experience for us as it was for him.”
—Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times
“Fanning combines memoir, travelogue, political tract, and history lesson in this engaging account of his 3,000-mile solo walk from Virginia to California to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation….Fanning’s descriptions of the hardships and highlights of the trip comprise the bulk of the book, and he infuses his left-wing politics into a narrative peppered with historical tidbits, most of which describe less-than-honorable moments in American history, such as the terrorist actions of the Ku Klux Klan and the nation’s Indian removal policies. What stands out most, though, is the selflessness and generosity—which come in the form of stories, hospitality, and donations for the foundation—of the people Fanning encountered during his journey.”
“Partly an evocation of ‘the bloody birth of the nation I now walked through’ and its often troubled history, part memoir of the author’s transformation from conservative Christian soldier to radical atheist and pacifist, part indictment of a foreign policy in which ‘Iraq felt like a bait-and-switch—and a betrayal.’ But mostly it’s about the people he met in the small towns he visited and the encouragement they gave him.”
“Rory Fanning’s transformation from soldier to peace pilgrim is a moving tale told with passion and eloquence. Long after the shooting stops, the soldiers who fight our wars are too often left to fight their personal battles alone. Fanning transforms his disillusionment with war and the military and strikes out for the country on a timeless journey of discovery. As he he traverses America on foot, he finds the radical heartbeat of a nation and builds bridges to people and places that have been left behind. This is a searing, honest, and ultimately hopeful tale of traveling a road from war to peace and justice.”
—David Goodman, co-author, Standing Up to the Madness
“I recommend [this] book enthusiastically…a tale told with wisdom, erudition, kindness, humor, humility, and generosity of which I think Tillman might have been proud.”
—David Swanson, author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union
“[Rory Fanning] walks coast to coast to serve a cause, to find himself, and to imagine a better America fit for all the good people he meets along the way and all the good soldiers lost. His hard journey changes him, and it may change you too.”
—Ann Jones, author of They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars
“Worth Fighting For takes us on a journey that will live inside you long after you finish the book. It is not only the physical journey that you make with Fanning as he walks across the country, but it’s the psychological, political and spiritual journey that you accompany him on as well, as he makes sense of his experience in the U.S. military through the lens of the incredible people and history he interacts with on his trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific. With each step and every page, we experience the evolving clarity of Fanning’s politics, worldview, and purpose in life.”
—Jen Marlowe, author, I Am Troy Davis and The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker
By Michael A. Behrens, September 07, 2014
By Michael A. Behrens, July 22, 2014
The Documentary Film institute launched its first DocFilm Forum in 2014 with a moderated discussion, book signing, and reception featuring art critic and author Ben Davis and new his book 9.5 Theses on Art and Class. Annually, DocFilm Forum explores and highlights ideas, tools and methods that disrupt current practices in documentary film production, exhibition, craft and research and pushes the boundaries of how documentaries function in our various communities, cultures and economies. As follow up, to this lively panel discussion, DFI is happy to announce the first of four video segments from the Ben Davis studio recording. Every two weeks DFI will launch the remaining segments on our blog. For those of you that did not make the event at SFSU take this opportunity to join Michael A. Behrens (DocFilm Director), Ben Davis (Author & Art Critic), Eric Talbert (Executive Director, Emergency USA), Sanaz Mazinani (Visual Artist), and Jesse Moss (SFSU Faculty & Filmmaker) as they discuss the role of politics in art. Click here for a link to the video.
To buy Ben Davis’ book, 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, click here.
Ben Davis is an art critic living in New York City. His writings have appeared in Adbusters, the Brooklyn Rail, Slate, the Village Voice, and many other publications. He is currently executive editor ofArtinfo.com.
Jesse Moss is a San Francisco based filmmaker. Previous films include Full Battle Ratte (Berlinale, SXSW Special Jury Prize, Film Forum NYC), Speedo (PBS/POV), and Con Man (HBO). He produced William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Sundance, Arthouse Films, PBS/POV). He has been a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film
Eric Talbert serves as the Executive Director of EMERGENCY USA – Life Support for Civilian Victims of War and Poverty. EMERGENCY USA is the US branch of the international medical humanitarian aid organization EMERGENCY, which provides high-standard free-of-charge medical and surgical care in war-torn areas and promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights. Eric earned his degree in Psychology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he recently received UNLV’s College of Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year Award. He is a board member of the Development Executives Roundtable (DER), a Bay Area organization that provides excellent fundraising education in an informal, inclusive and supportive atmosphere that encourages learning and networking. Eric is honored to have received the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – San Francisco/Bay Area (YNPNsfba) 2012 Young Executive Director of the Year Award.
Sanaz Mazinani is an internationally exhibiting artist based in San Francisco. Her projects have been exhibited in venues such as Museum Bärengasse, Zurich, Art & Architecture Library at Stanford University, University of Toronto Art Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Sarai, New Delhi, Center for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, and Emirates Financial Towers, Dubai. Mazinani’s catalogue “Unfolding Images” was released in 2012. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and San Francisco Arts Commission and was shortlisted for the 2013 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize, granted the Kala Art Institute Fellowship, and was awarded the SFAC Art on Market Street public art installation for 2013. Her artwork has been written about in Border Crossings, Nuva Luz, NOW Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and Dide. Mazinani studied art at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (2003), and received her MFA at Stanford University (2011).
Moderator, Michael A. Behrens is an award winning artist, business consultant, and film producer with 20 years of experience. He is the Director of the Documentary Film Institute at San Francisco State University. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors for the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Emergency USA, Bona Fide Films and NarrativeTrack Inc. Michael holds a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
archived blog from launch of DocFilm Forum:
The DocFilm Institute is looking for SFSU students to tell their stories.
June 12, 2014
June 13, 2014
SFSU Fine Arts Building Studio A
Help SFSU by telling your story on video and get paid. The University is looking for SFSU students to tell their story and help with new freshman student retention. The final selection of students will receive a stipend for their participation in a video that will be
shown to incoming freshman online. Yes, there will be snacks!
Students from all levels and backgrounds are encouraged to participate. We are looking for SFSU students at all levels of education.
Please schedule a time during one of the above dates with Robert Barbarino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Slots from 9am-6pm will be filled on a first come first served basis. A select group of students will be called back and will receive a stipend for their time!
A San Francisco State tradition for nearly half a century, Film Finals is the Cinema Department’s annual showcase of jury-selected films and the City’s premiere student cinema event. This year it is to be held for the first time ever at the renowned Sundance Kabuki Theater on Tuesday, May 20th at 7:00PM. The screening and awards presentation will be from 7-9:00PM, with a balcony ticket-only reception from 9-10:30PM. Buy your tickets today before it’s sold out here:
With the code redcarpet, students receive a $5 discount.
Before the Film Finals screening begins, a special ceremony will take place to award $5,000 in Cinema Department scholarships in addition to announcing this year’s nominations for three prestigious department-hosted awards.
Film Finals is a celebration of SFSU’s rich cinematic heritage, a heritage that has seen alumni earn Oscar nominations for fifteen consecutive years. It supports this emerging talent by providing a platform for their innovative work to be publicly shown and recognized, often for the very first time. The 54th Film Finals will bring together students, faculty, administrators, cinephiles, and members of the public in celebrating SFSU Cinema and the future of cinema!
For more information, visit our website sffilmfinals.com.
May 6, 2014
By Taylor LoNigro
On behalf of DocFilm and the entire VDC team, we want to thank you for attending the February 11 Veteran Documentary Corps premiere. The evening was a great success. Veterans and filmmakers alike had an amazing time. Your support means a great deal to us all at VDC; we can’t fulfill our mission to tell veterans’ stories without you.
The VDC team has also released all the documentaries you enjoyed at the Castro Theatre on our website and on the Pentagon Channel.
As you all know, VDC currently depends on donations to tell each veteran’s story. A very generous donor has offered to match your gift, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. Gifts are 100% tax deductible. More than 90% of your contribution goes towards film production costs. With your help, we will reach our $10,000 goal.
A gift of $100, $$250, $500 or more will enable us to attain our 2014 goal of producing one story per month. Our next subject is Katrina Rodriguez, a Native American serving in the United States Navy. Katrina, is a mother of two children, and is deeply involved in her community of fellow veterans. If you give at the $250 level or above over the next three weeks, we will send you a DVD copy of the February 11 event!
Again, we thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you at future events.
Please make a donation today by following the easy steps below.
Make your check out to: Documentary Film Institute and mail it to:
C/O of Documentary Film Institute
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue FA 234
San Francisco, CA 94129
By Credit Card:
Visit this link: http://veterandocs.org/donate.html select the credit card option and then choose DocFilm in the scroll down menu under the Outreach + Special Initiatives section on the San Francisco State University donor page and Choose Veteran Documentary Corps. If you have any trouble at all, please call 415.405.3753 for assistance.
April 24, 2014
By: Taylor LoNigro
The San Francisco Film Society‘s 57th San Francisco International Film Festival has finally kicked off today and will run through May 8 screening over 150 films to thousands of people.
With 74 narrative features, 65 shorts, and 29 documentaries, an impressive total of 56 countries will be represented in 40 different languages.
The festival opened tonight with Hossein Amini’s stylish, directorial debut “Two Faces of January,” special guests and a festive celebration with live entertainment, dancing, food and drinks.
Throughout the eclectic festival, the audience is and will be given the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of cinema through presentations and discussions held by festival guests.
Excitingly, we have two faculty members from SF State who will be presenting their films at the festival this year. The cinema department’s Ben Ridgway will be screening his film, “Cosmic Flower Unfolding,” on April 26 at 9:45PM and May 5 at 9:00PM at the Kabuki Theatre.
If you’re interested in attending any of the screenings during the next two weeks of the festival, check out the website here.
We are so proud of our faculty members representing amazing talent coming from our very own cinema department here at SF State. If you are attending the festival, we hope you have a great time!
Production commitments will determine availability of staff members and guestsEugene Corr · Jacob Forman · Jen Gilomen · Christopher Monger
Plus Special Guests Including Producers & Directors
Limited Financial Aid available.
Deadline to Apply: April 2, 2014.
Visit the Screenwriting Workshop Website:
By Daniel Bernardi, DocFilm Executive Director and Cinema Department Chair
DocFilm has gone through many changes since I took the reins two years ago. We have developed a charter, stabilized the budget, produced films, hosted master classes, secured large and small grants, employed numerous students, and have made several strategic partnerships with local institutions in our effort to realign the Institute with the Bay Area film community. This hard work culminates in the hiring of Michael A. Behrens as DocFilm’s Managing Director. Michael actually started about a year ago as a consultant to DocFilm, securing grants from HBO, partnerships with SFFS, managing the transition of the “rumor” grant to a start-up company called NarrativeTrack, and helping launch the Veteran Documentary Corps project. We are expecting even greater things from this veteran administrator, producer and fundraiser.
Michael joins us after running the Filmmaker Education Program at the San Francisco Film Society and before that at Film Arts Foundation. He is deeply involved in community and national issues relating to documentary film production, distribution, exhibition and education, and also consults for large nonprofit organizations like Emergency USA. Michael has learned this business from the ground up. He has worked as Stage Director in Finland, acted for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and appeared in television commercials from Volkswagen to Burger King and in Television shows with Rick Springfield and the gang on Star Trek Voyager. He loves the business of making and screening movies, and is a great addition to our accomplished team of filmmakers and media scholars at SFSU.
I chose Michael for his fundraising, producing and management instincts. He is the right guy to help us take DocFilm to the next level
Keep checking the blog for updates.