Interested in documentary and independent film? Learn about Flaherty Summer!

Overview - 5C Flaherty Summer 

  • Flaherty Summer is a week-long Five College summer program. Each year one student from each of the Five Colleges is chosen to attend the Flaherty Seminar - an annual week-long event devoted to documentary and independent film.
  • The Flaherty Seminar is a unique social experiment, bringing together filmmakers, artists, curators, media professionals, film students, scholars, and film lovers to watch and discuss films all day long in an intimate, immersive environment
  • During the Seminar the 5C student cohort participates in a guided program of daily lunches with attending media professionals. Past lunch guests have included freelance producers, editors, animators, artists, professional funders working with major arts funders like the Ford Foundation, and curators at museums such as MoMA and the Smithsonian. 

When are applications due?

  • The program is on hiatus in 2023. We will post a notification here when the program returns. Note: in 2022, Applications were due in late February. See the 2022 Call for Applications below as a reference.

Who should apply?

  • You should apply if you love independent media and feel your community is underrepresented on the screen and in the industry. The program is designed to support and create learning and networking opportunities for women, LGBTQ students, students of color, students with disabilities, students with financial need, and undocumented students.


More on the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar

With a storied history dating back to 1954, the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (aka “The Flaherty Seminar”) is an annual, week-long program devoted to non-fiction film and media. The Flaherty Seminar brings together filmmakers, artists, curators, media professionals, film students, teachers, and enthusiasts for a curated program of films in an intimate, immersive environment. Participants gather for a communal experience that includes housing, meals, social hours, and special events. Each day of the week is organized around at least three screening sessions followed by discussion.

The 68th Annual Flaherty Film Seminar Queer World-Mending will take place in June 17-23, 2023, and will be programmed by Jon Davies and Steve Reinke.

Hegel wrote: “Better a mended sock than a torn one – not so with subjectivity.” How can we mend the wounded world if we are open wounds ourselves? Sexuality is a force that cuts through histories and identities, and offers an embodied approach to thinking. Joining the living and the dead, the program will be a playground of desire, a laboratory for developing new subjectivities.

– Jon Davies and Steve Reinke

More information about the Seminar’s history and activities can also be found on the seminar website. The Flaherty's newsletter can be found here


More on 5C Flaherty Summer

The 5C FLAHERTY SUMMER program aims to foster diversity and inclusion in the fields of film and media by creating opportunities for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Through this program, one student is selected from each of the five campuses and this 5C cohort to participate in a week-long guided program during the Flaherty Seminar coordinated by a faculty mentor. The 5C faculty mentor for 2022 was Anaiis Cisco, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Smith College.

The student selected to attend from each campus will have their registration fees for the Flaherty Seminar (which covers accommodations and meals for the week, as well as special Five College programming) paid by the 5C Flaherty Summer Program. Student participants will receive a $300 travel stipend and will be responsible for arranging their own travel to and from the Seminar.

Testimonials from Recent Flaherty Summer Alumni

JinJin Xu from Amherst (2017 Seminar)

“As a recent Amherst graduate, I have never encountered discussions of film outside of an academic context, and have a hard time even articulating what exactly is my relation to film when faced with confident professionals… I had the opportunity to sit next to filmmakers I have long admired as their films played on screen, and to turn to them afterwards to discuss it. Instead of placing these makers on an unreachable pedestal—as the classroom environment often incidentally does—they, and their films, became approachable, intimate, human.”

Alex Tran from UMass (2018 Seminar)

“Before attending the Flaherty, I had absolutely NO idea where I was going. I was studying film, sure, but where was that going to lead me? What am I going to do when I get out of college? The ‘film industry’ can most likely feel closed off to students, especially students of color. What the Flaherty did for me was expose me to the countless number of careers that are sustainable in the path I wish to pursue.”

Henna Joshi from Mt Holyoke (2018 Seminar)

“I learned about new careers I didn't even know existed through the lunches we got to have with the artists. At the seminar, I talked to curators, archivists, film professors, installation artists and of course, the filmmakers. This was really inspiring for me as someone who just graduated to realize that career options are not limited for students interested in film.”

JaNayah Ivy from Smith (2017 Seminar)

“In an industry where you see so little of your identity represented, you essentially need to become your own role model (a practice that can be discouraging at times). At the Flaherty however, I not only met women of color working in film (like myself) but witnessed the gathering of a diverse group of thinkers who serve as a representation of their own stories.”

Dominic Sanchez from Hampshire (2018 Seminar)

“Attending the Flaherty Seminar was not only creatively invigorating, but every conversation I had with an artist, professor, or filmmaker felt like brief moments of mentorship in which I was informed about organizations that I should seek out, and MFA programs that would suit my academic field of interest. Defining a postgraduate path felt extremely affirming, as well as having guidance and insight from artists and academics of color who were very honest in sharing their own personal stories about their career journeys.”

Call for Applications: 2022 5C Flaherty Summer

The Five College Film Council is now accepting applications for 5C FLAHERTY SUMMER, a week-long intensive summer program for Five College students in partnership with the Flaherty, a nonprofit media arts institution recognized as a leader in its support of documentary and independent film and media. The 2022 Application deadline was February 28.


The goal of this guided program—qualitatively different from an internship or work experience—is to cultivate learning and networking opportunities for students from constituencies that are underrepresented in leadership positions in film and media, including women, LGBTQ persons, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, students with financial need, and undocumented students. In choosing an Amherst College student to attend, our selection committee will give particular consideration to applicants who confront multiple barriers to professional advancement in this field.

Preference will be given to FAMS majors and to students who have completed at least one critical studies and one production class in film and media. Students should check with their advisor or FAMS professors if they have any questions about the courses they’ve taken. This program is best suited for students who will be entering their third and fourth year in Fall 2022. However, we will also consider graduating seniors and first year students.


Students selected to be part of the 5C Flaherty Summer cohort will be required to:

(A) Attend a half-day orientation in Spring 2022, in which they will meet fellow participants and learn more about the Flaherty and what will be expected of them there.

(B) Arrive at Colgate University by 2PM on June 25, 2022 and stay for the full duration of the Seminar, which concludes at noon on July 1, 2022.

(C) Participate in a guided program of daily lunch and dinner conversations with attending media professionals and filmmakers during the seminar.

Additionally, they may be asked to speak about their experiences and this program with other interested students during the following school year.

What we are looking for:

We are searching for applicants who have demonstrated passion and inclination for creative and critical work in film and media, with a special interest in nonfiction, and who can integrate themselves respectfully into non-academic venues for discussing nonfiction film and filmmaking. Applicants should demonstrate that they have taken some time to acquaint themselves with the structure and history of the Flaherty Seminar. Applicants should effectively convey reasons why they would like to attend the Flaherty Seminar and also how they feel they can contribute to the event. All attendees are encouraged to participate in discussions and the overall discourse, and we want to know what you can add.

How can Amherst Students Apply?

Please fill out the online application form by February 28, 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out soon after the deadline.