Dear alumni and friends of the Film & Media Studies (FMS) Program,
We in FMS hope you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and well during the pandemic. The spring 2021 semester was another challenging one for us. But I am happy to report that we were once again able to continue instruction without interruption until the end of the semester.
As before, we taught our courses through a combination of virtual and in-person modalities while strictly following all the safety protocols necessitated by the pandemic. I know from my own experience that observing these protocols was onerous and time-consuming, and I thank our faculty and staff--many of whom had young children at home for much of the year or were coping with sick relatives--for the extraordinary lengths to which they went to maintain a high quality of education for our students. I also thank our students, who themselves had to shoulder many additional burdens due to the pandemic, for their resilience and their adherence to public health requirements, which ensured there was little community spread of the coronavirus. It was a tough year that hopefully won’t be repeated any time soon, but we pulled through.
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, some of which you can read about in this newsletter. Like many of you, we are wondering what will happen to film theaters in the post-pandemic world, and we all benefited from the expertise of Caetlin Benson-Allott and Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece, two scholars of theatrical exhibition who shared their views with us in a well-attended virtual talk arranged by Professor Tasha Oren. Professor Jennifer Burton organized several events in her ongoing Women in Filmmaking series, including virtual visits from film producers Linda Reisman and Lisa Bruce. Filmmakers Dehanza Rogers and Venessa Yee also dropped in on-line to discuss the value of diversity behind the camera in a talk titled “Color Correcting the Narrative” that was organized by Professor Natalie Minik. This talk is part of a set of initiatives FMS has launched to make our program more diverse and inclusive, which you will be hearing more about in the future. Meanwhile, Leslie Goldberg, our Internship Director, offered several on-line workshops about internships, and worked tirelessly to ensure our students continue to benefit from internship opportunities.
The pandemic didn’t prevent our advanced film production students from completing Honors Theses in their senior year, and several of them shared their outstanding films and screenplays in an end-of-semester virtual event. Senior Honors Theses require a great deal of work and effort in the best of times, and I congratulate our Senior Honors Thesis students for persevering during this challenging year. We were also fortunate to be able to gather in-person to celebrate our graduating seniors, and you can see photos from our socially distanced graduation ceremony in this newsletter.
The semester ended with the wonderful news that Professor of the Practice Khary Jones, who teaches screenwriting and supervises many of our Honors Theses, was awarded a much coveted Harvard Film Study Center-LEF Fellowship and LEF Grant. You can read more about these awards and Khary’s film project Night Fight in this newsletter. Congratulations Khary on this terrific achievement!
Finally, it is with mixed feelings that I will be stepping down as Director of the Film & Media Studies program when my six-year term comes to an end this summer. It has been a privilege to serve as Director of the program since it was founded six years ago and to watch it grow. We ended this year with over 100 majors, which makes us one of the biggest arts/humanities majors at Tufts, and thanks to the largesse of Dean Glaser, we now have our own footprint in Barnum with dedicated offices, classrooms, a digital editing lab, a filmmaking studio, and a large high-quality screen facility. Many faculty, staff, students and alumni have contributed to the success of the FMS program, and I am happy to announce that I am leaving it in the more-than-capable hands of Tasha Oren, our professor of Television Studies, who will be taking over as Director on July 1. I am sure you will be hearing from her soon.
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.
Tufts Film and Media Studies Director