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FMS Director Letter: Fall 2021

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Tasha Oren

The start of the new term in September brought renewed excitement as most classes returned to in-person teaching and we at FMS enjoyed our second, full semester in our new home in Barnum Hall. It was a delight to see everyone in person and sense our corner of Barnum--the equipment cage, classrooms, offices, studio, finishing room and screening hall--fill the buzz of creative energy. While Omicron deferred our optimistic “post-pan” plans, we still had a full and lively semester, featuring a mix of in-person and virtual events.

Our FMS Speakers Series, organized and hosted by Prof. Jennifer Burton, welcomed TV and Film director Ken Kwapis (One Mississippi, A Walk in the Woods, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) in September. Andrew Blackwell, Supervising Editor and Senior Producer of Op-Docs at The New York Times joined us in October, and film producer Linda Reisman, (Leave No Trace, Affliction, The Danish Girl) offered a pitching workshop in November.

That same month, we held our first screening and public talk at the newly renovated Barnum 08 auditorium, where filmmaker, musician and social justice activist Medhin Paolos screened her documentary ASMARINA. The film, which profiles the Habesha (Eritrean and Ethiopian) community in Italy and foregrounds the legacies of Italian colonialism in the horn of Africa, drew an enthusiastic audience who engaged Medhin in a Q&A session that lasted well past the event’s official end.

We gathered again in December, for the second annual COVID-EO film festival organized and hosted by Natalie Minik-- the first and second place winners, Olivia White’s My Roommate and Me in Quarantine, and Eli Beutel and Harrison Witt’s Idle are available on our program’s website. As we watched the submissions, some comic, some poignant, all grappling with various dimensions of isolation, we were again reminded of the pleasures in watching and talking about film and media together as a community, and look forward to doing so with more regularity in the coming year.

The end of the semester, and the winter break, offered many students the opportunity to participate in the Winternship program, organized and run by our internship director, Leslie Goldberg. Despite COVID-related challenges, a diverse group of media organizations such as Bona Fide Productions,, C-Space, Elevate Communications, Glass Entertainment Group, Gupta Media, Iwerks, United Talent Agency and WGBH Radio, among others, provided unique opportunities and training to our students, who will be sharing their accounts of the experience on our website soon.

As the new semester begins, I end with acknowledging our FMS faculty, staff and students, who all weathered a difficult year with hard work, vision and grace.

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