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FMS Director's Letter, Fall 2020

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


Dear students, faculty, alumni, and friends,


We in the Film & Media Studies (FMS) program hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well during the pandemic. The fall 2020 semester was a challenging but ultimately rewarding one for us as we welcomed students back to campus and successfully adapted to teaching while following the strict safety protocols mandated by the university.


We taught our courses through a combination of virtual and in-person modalities, and I am happy to report that we were able to continue in-person instruction largely without interruption until the end of the semester. This was due both to the heroic efforts of our faculty, who quickly figured out how best to teach their courses safely, and to our students, who almost without exception complied with social-distancing, mask-wearing, and other public health requirements, thereby ensuring there was little community spread of the coronavirus. I thank both our faculty and students for the extraordinary lengths to which they went to keep our community safe, and I am optimistic we will be able to continue on the same path in the spring.


While we weren't able to gather together in person for our usual slate of extra-curricular screenings and other events, we organized several on-line ones. Catherine Martin, radio expert and visiting FMS lecturer in 2019-2020, returned to give a fascinating talk on Zoom titled "I want to have some fun too!": Gender, Genre, and Marriage in the Postwar Crime Sitcom." Catherine showed that the radio crime sitcom--a generic hybrid of family comedy and crime drama--became a valuable forum through which producers and audiences explored changing ideas about marriage and gender in the decade after WWII. This talk was enjoyed by all, and we are fortunate that Catherine is rejoining us in spring 2021 to teach her popular podcasting course. Meanwhile, Jennifer Burton, esteemed filmmaker and Professor of the Practice at Tufts, organized a workshop on cinematography in the time of Covid taught by award-winning filmmaker Allie Humenuk. Jenn also invited screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, who wrote the screenplay for Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975), to talk to our students.


Wondering what life during the pandemic is like for our students, we organized a film festival and competition, open to all students at Tufts, called Co-Video (thanks to Natalie Minik, our documentary film lecturer, for that great title!). Any student at Tufts could submit a film to the competition, and the only requirement was that it be no longer than 2 minutes, and that it reflect in some way on what life is like right now for students. We received 20 wonderful submissions, all of which were shown during an on-line screening, and it was hard to settle on a winner. Ultimately, the selection committee chose Eli Beutel's delightful Hesh's of the Afternoon, which creatively reworks Maya Deren's seminal avant-garde film Meshes of the Afternoon (1942) to convey the deadening repetitiveness and limitations of life during the pandemic and the fragmentation of identity it can precipitate. We congratulate Eli and the other students who submitted films (which can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/486059376) and look forward to organizing similar film festivals in the future.


Due to the hard work and creative thinking of our internship director, Leslie Goldberg, we are once again running our yearly Winternship program, in which students undertake condensed internships over the winter break at film and media companies throughout the country. This year, of course, these internships will be conducted remotely and we are very grateful to our industry partners for hosting Winterns during these difficult times: Bonafide Productions, Boston.com, C-Space, Filmmakers Collaborative, Glass Entertainment Group, Gupta Media, Havas Media, Smartypants Productions, Trickle Up, United Talent Agency, WGBH-Children’s Media, WNET-Amanpour & Company. Congratulations to our 32 Winterns and to the many other students who took the time to apply to the program.


While this coming semester will doubtless also be a challenging one, we have learned how to be on campus safely together, and we will to continue to make student, staff, and faculty safety our highest priority. We hope you all stay well, and please don't hesitate to contact us with any news you would like to share about your achievements.

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