Astray, a film by Josh Brainin and Ernest Kabashi.

The indie film, Astray, was selected to be featured on the website, No Budge. Numerous Amherst College students participated in the senior class film project, which was directed by Ernest Kabashi and FAMS alum, Josh Brainin '20. The film won best short at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Top Shorts, the Indie Short Fest, the Los Angeles International Film Festival. Congratulations, Josh! We're proud of you!

Welcome, Professor Lise Sanders!

FAMS is thrilled to welcome Lise Shapiro Sanders, who will be teaching at Amherst for the 2020-21 academic year. As a Professor of English literature and cultural studies at Hampshire College, her research and teaching interests offer an intersection between literature, print media, and film studies. These intersections will be on terrific display in "Victorian Sensations, or When Old Media Were New” this Fall and “The City in Literature and Early Film” this Spring. She will also be offering an “Introduction to Film Studies: The History of American Cinema, 1895-1960” in the Fall, which will serve as a foundations course in the major as well as a class that will happily welcome non-majors who have an interest in film more broadly. In the spring she will teach a course on “Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema,” and we hope as many students as possible will take advantage of this opportunity!

Professor Sanders is the author of Consuming Fantasies: Labor, Leisure, and the London Shopgirl, 1880-1920; co-editor (with Amy Bingaman and Rebecca Zorach) of Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis; and editor of Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s 1875 novel Janet Doncaster for the British press Victorian Secrets. Her articles on Victorian feminism, literature, and early cinema have appeared in The Journal of Modern Periodical StudiesModern Fiction StudiesWomen’s History Review, and several edited collections. She co-authored (with Pamela K. Stone) the forthcoming Bodies and Lives in Victorian England: Science, Sexuality, and the Affliction of Being Female (Routledge, 2020), and she is currently at work on a book on women, modernity, and the romance in the 1920s.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Sanders to Amherst! 

Class of 2020 Quarantine Graduation

We didn't let this unprecedented time of COVID-19 stop us from celebrating our graduating students in Film & Media Studies. On May 6, 2020, we held a graduation party virtually over Zoom. A mix of students, faculty, and staff were in attendance. Our seniors presented their theses and film projects, and reminisced about their time as FAMS students. Our faculty discussed our seniors' outstanding accomplishments. Congratulations to Josh Brainin, Nam Nguyen, Sophie Pu, and Kassidy Zhang! We are so proud of you!

Screenshot of 2020 FAMS graduation over Zoom.

"Wings of Desire" by Christian Rogowski

German professor and FAMS affiliate, Christian Rogowski has a newly released book where he explores the Wim Wenders 1986 film, Wings of Desire. In October 2019, we celebrated his book launch and Professor Rogowski presented a talk in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry. 

Architecture on Film: Communion Los Angeles

Directed by Film & Media Studies assistant professor Adam Levine and Peter Bo Rappmund, and in conversation with Justin Jaeckle, the 2019 film Architecture on Film: Communion Los Angeles brings you on a voyage through California's oldest freeway. Professor Levine and Rappmund's film was reviewed in Frieze and Hyperallergic.

The film screened at multiple locations worldwide, including:

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (February 2019)
Barbican Centre, London, UK (March 2019)
Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea (May 2019):
Museum of Moving Image, Queens, NY (June 2019)
Karlovy vary International Film Festival (July 2019)

Goodbye Team Columbo

From making recipes inspired by a tie-in cookbook to watching hours of the 1970's TV detective series Columbo, students Maeve McNamara '19, Kiera Alventosa '21, and Sabrina Lin '21, discuss their experience as research assistants for Professor Amelie Hastie's forthcoming book, Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder.

Eisenstein Symposium

On May 3-5, 2019, Professor Michael Kunichika organized Eisenstein's History of Art: An International Symposium, sponsored by the Film & Media Studies program and the Amherst Center for Russian Culture. Speakers presented a series of panels and roundtables dedicated to the Soviet film director. 

Pooja Rangan Receives 2019 Henry Levin Prize

Congratulations to Film & Media Studies Assistant Professor Pooja Rangan! Rangan’s Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary has won the 2019 Harry Levin Prize for outstanding first book.

The Harry Levin Prize recognizes an outstanding first book in the discipline of comparative literature; fields may include literary or cultural theory or history, or any other field of comparative literature. Pooja Rangan's Immediations is an original and timely book. It delineates a new corpusof documentary sources in an innovative way. Rangan re-deploys a trite and over-used idea (giving a voice to the voiceless) and demonstrates beautifully how problematic and troubling (but perhaps indispensable) it is, and does so in a way that ought to trouble all future documentarians, and all of those who tend to assume that documentary “truths” speak for themselves. Rangan is a bold book, elegantly written, comparative in nature, but also goes beyond more traditional fields in the comparative literature crowded bookproduction. She creates the main concept --the humanitarian-- from the study of the documentary corpus. By doing so, she establishes a dialogue with both “the human” and the “humanitarian crisis.”

Read a review of the book by one of her former students. 

Life Swam Away Like a River

A new short film directed by Five College Senior Lecturer in Film and Video Production Bernadine Mellis, Life Swam Away Like a River screened at the second annual Harvard Divinity School Film Festival in February 2019.

"First Words" by Amelie Hastie

In an article published in Amherst Magazine, Professor Amelie Hastie reflects on Debra Granik's 2010 film Winter's Bone, and how films provided her refuge during her long recovery from radiation treatment. 

"Rock Roll" by Josh Guilford

Josh Guilford, “Rock Roll,” 2015, 16mm, color, silent, 3 min

A camera roll film shot on the coast of Rabbit Island, an islet in Lake Superior three miles east of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. Built from sandstone formations dating back over 900 million years, Rabbit Island's coastline harbors traces of staggering geologic activity, conjuring images of ancient highlands, invading seas, and the slow, relentless action of sedimentation and compaction. While thinking about this drama, I charted a loose trajectory across the surface of a single expanse of sandstone at the island's northwest edge. I used my camera to map its diversity of visible forms -- the 'micro-events' of color variations, cracks and divots, distributions of lichens, etc. -- shooting in short bursts so that images might accumulate like falling waves.

Recent Screenings:
-54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 16 March 2016, Ann Arbor, MI (link); 
-27th Onion City Film Festival, 5 March 2016, Chicago, IL (link); 
-"First Thought, Best Thought: A Compendium of Camera Roll Films," The Film-Makers' Cooperative, 4 December 2015, New York, NY (link).

FAMS Professor Pooja Rangan interviewed for "Fresh Faculty" feature

December 9, 2015

The Amherst Student interviewed Professor Pooja Rangan to find out what her hobbies are and her advice for students in Film Studies.

Read the interview.


Film and Media Studies Program Expands with New Faculty, Courses and Events

October 13, 2015
By Rachel Rogol

Students in Adam Levine's Experimental Cinema course gathered together under a tree on Valentine Quad.

Now in its sixth year, Amherst’s Film and Media Studies (FAMS) Program recently appointed two new faculty members and is offering more courses (24 this academic year) and public film screenings (with internationally renowned artists and scholars) than ever before.

The FAMS program originated at Amherst in 2009 and officially launched as a major in fall 2010. Since then, the program has steadily gained momentum. Nine students have graduated as majors and nearly two dozen filmmakers and scholars have shown their work on campus. In fall 2014, Adam Levine, assistant professor of art, film and media studies, oversaw the installation of a black box studio in Fayerweather Hall; students majoring in film and media studies, as well as art and the history of art, can access it any time, day or night.

Last fall, Professor Amelie Hastie—the first FAMS faculty member and current chair of the program—oversaw the hires of new faculty members Pooja Rangan and Joshua Guilford.

Hastie says she's particularly excited about the areas of study and practice that Rangan and Guilford bring to the program, which complement her own scholarship, as well as Levine’s creative work and research. "What's interesting is how we all intersect," Hastie says. Levine and Guilford explore experimental film practice and theory in their courses and creative work. Hastie and Rangan, both published feminist media scholars, focus on narrative fiction and documentary film cultures, respectively. And though the four approach film and media from different perspectives, Rangan says, “We all share an investment in questioning normative film studies.”

In addition to being on the faculty in the FAMS program, Hastie, Rangan and Guilford are also members of Amherst's English department, and Levine is a faculty member in the department of art and the history of art. Many other professors from various academic departments also contribute to the FAMS curriculum, in part, Hastie says, because of the program's inherently interdisciplinary nature.

Christian Rogowski, professor of language and literature in Amherst's department of German, was an early advocate for the FAMS program and has taught courses about the German contribution to the emergence of film since before the FAMS program began. "The FAMS program was created in recognition of the fact that developing an awareness of how media operate is a crucial component of a liberal arts education," Rogowski says. "In today’s media-saturated world, it is increasingly important, especially for young people, to gain an understanding of how media images are constructed and how they impact our sense of being in the world."


Film & Feminism: Amherst Scholar To Deliver Distinguished Lecture at International Women’s Film Festival

May 21, 2015
By Rachel Rogol

Ida Lupino
Actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino (1918–1995)

“I am not exaggerating when I say that women have been publicly calling for better roles behind the camera for a hundred years—almost since the inauguration of film itself,” writes Amelie Hastie in the most recent issue of "The Vulnerable Spectator," her recurring column in the academic journal Film Quarterly.

Hastie, professor of English and film and media studies at Amherst, has written extensively about historical and contemporary women in film. Her first book, Cupboards of Curiosity: Women, Recollection, and Film History (Duke University Press, 2007), explores notions female authorship in the silent-film era.

Her 2009 book The Bigamist, authored for the prestigious BFI Film Classics series, examines the directed works of actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino, which Hastie describes as providing “a complex commentary on the fantasies and fears of mid-century domestic life in the USA” from a female point of view.

It’s this research on Lupino in particular that will bring Hastie to the 17th annual Seoul International Women’s Film Festival to deliver the distinguished lecture “Ida Lupino and Historical Legibility” on June 1. Lupino, an English-American actress and filmmaker, was the only woman actively directing in 1950s Hollywood and the first woman to star in a film she also directed. As an expert on her life and work, Hastie will examine Lupino’s filmmaking career and consider why her name and accomplishments have been largely lost to cinematic history.

Hastie’s lecture will be part of a retrospective honoring the late film star. What’s interesting about a retrospective of Lupino in 2015, says Hastie, is that her directed works explored various social issues in mid-20th-century America that are still relevant, and her 48-year cinematic career is especially relevant to the career trajectories of women in film today.

Hastie suggests a variety of complex reasons for why such an enigmatic figure would fall to the margins of history, including a lack of attention by feminist scholars as well as the much more widespread sexism in and out of the academy. Regarding the latter, she references a New York Times article published in December 2014 and a viral Tumblr blog that persistently tells personal stories of women facing bias in the industry and casts Hollywood today as a perpetual “boys club.”

In her teaching at Amherst, Hastie says she interjects her own feminist training in every course by insisting on the presence of women filmmakers in students’ studies. At the film festival in South Korea, Hastie hopes the collective efforts to screen and discuss films by women will help revive figures like Lupino and empower contemporary women filmmakers to change not only filmmaking practices but also history itself.


Production and Critical Studies Student Work, with Ken Howard '66

Ken Howard '66 returned to Amherst College as a Croxton Lecturer in fall 2012 to teach "The Role and the Self." A winner of Tony and Emmy Awards and most the recent president of the Screen Actors Guild, Howard is known for his roles TV series such as "The White Shadow" and "30 Rock" and films including J. Edgar. His course was about more than just the craft and history of acting, however—its aim was to help students develop their writing and speaking skills, media literacy and understanding of human behavior. In the final two weeks of class, students demonstrated what they'd learned, performing sonnets and character roles.