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Still from Milagroso Azul (Miracle Blue) by Joyzel Acevedo '15
Still from Milagroso Azul (Miracle Blue) by Joyzel Acevedo '15

Political yet Personal: Student Documentaries Explore Torture and Immigration

A former military police officer attempts to reconcile his love for music with the memory of hearing it used as a weapon while stationed at Guantanamo Bay. An immigrant family from Cuba mourns the loss of their wife / mother / grandmother thousands of miles from the place they know as home. These are the real stories behind two documentaries filmed, edited and produced by Ashley Blasczyk '15 and Joyzel Acevedo '15 as part of their Film and Media Studies senior thesis projects.

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Introducing Lt. Columbo!

This past spring Professor Amelie Hastie joined UCLA John H. Mitchell Television archivist Mark Quigley for a post-screening discussion of "Enough Rope" the Richard Levinson and William Link live teleplay that first introduced Lt. Columbo to the world! Here is a link to their conversation:


Veil and Vow: Marriage Matters in Contemporary African American Culture

Professor Aneeka Henderson’s recent book, Veil and Vow: Marriage Matters in Contemporary African American Culture (which includes critical examinations of Malcolm D. Lee's 1999 film The Best Man and Gina Prince-Bythewood's 2000 film Love and Basketball) was selected by Black Perspectives as one the Best Black History Books of 2020. And the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora selected Veil and Vow as a finalist for their 2021 Outstanding First Book Prize.

A Clarion Call to Strike Back: Antisemitism and Ludwig Berger's Der Meister von Nürnberg (1927)

Professor Christian Rogowski has recently published an essay on the anti-Semitic propaganda campaign surrounding German-Jewish director Ludwig Berger's Weimar era silent film, The Master of Nuremberg (1927), a film loosely associated with Richard Wagner's opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The essay, "'A Clarion Call to Strike Back: Antisemitism and Ludwig Berger’s Der Meister von Nürnberg (1927)," can be found below, and a link to the book containing the essay is here: https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/HalesRethinking#toc.

Documentary World-Making

Professor Josh Guilford and his collaborator Toby Lee published a special dossier on Documentary World-Making in World Records. Vol. 4 (Fall, 2020).  The full dossier can be accessed here:  https://vols.worldrecordsjournal.org/04/01?index=1. It includes an introduction that Professor Guilford co-authored with Professor Lee: Introduction: Documentary World-Making."  His own contribution is "'Disorganized Organization: Signs of Life in the Film-Makers' Cooperative's Paper Archive."

Four Propositions on True Crime and Abolition

Professor Pooja Rangan co-wrote an article with filmmaker Brett Story (who gave the FAMS Keyssar lecture in Fall 2019), which was published earlier this year: "Four Propositions on True Crime and Abolition".  It serves as an excellent preview to her forthcoming Spring 2022 course “After Cops: Police, Media, and Prison Abolition!” The article takes up a recent trend in the massively popular genre of true crime documentary: critique of the criminal justice system. In many ways, documentary seems to launder true crime of its exploitative reputation, while true crime has paved the way for documentary's commercial success. Our article discusses this uneasy handshape, and examines how the justice-driven orientation of the "new true crime" aligns with the false promises of prison reform, while holding in place our suffocating fascination with the category of crime. What would it take, we ask to imagine an abolitionist documentary? Would it require letting go off--even abolishing--our investments in guilt, innocence, and the concept of crime itself? 


Directed by Wendy Woodson and created in collaboration and performed with Anna Maynard, Elsewhere was first created as a live dance/theater duet written.  This duet premiered at the Bodies in Motion Festival, Hawley Street Theater in Northampton January 2020.  The text was recorded and then used to create the sound score (designed by AC alumna Mackenzie Kugel).  Video images from some of Woodson’s travels were then added to this video version, created during the first lockdown.The link to that film can be found here: https://www.wendywoodson.com/elsewhere.

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! 

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)