In May, the MFA in Documentary Media students were honored to volunteer at Good Pitch Chicago. Good Pitch brings together documentary filmmakers with foundations and philanthropists to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all partners, good for the films and good for society. Good Pitch Chicago featured six films, Almost Sunrise, Raising Bertie, Newtown: A Documentary, (T)error, From This Day Forward, and Romeo Is Bleeding.
The Kartemquin Films miniseries Hard Earned, co-directed by adjunct instructor Maria Finitizo and produced by adjunct instructor Steve James, premiered May 3rd, on Al-Jazeera America. The six-part documentary series follows five families around the country to find out what it takes to get by on $8 an hour. In January, Finitzo also announced production on her feature film debut, Those Left Behind. The film is scheduled for release in 2017.
In Country, co-directed by lecturer Mike Attie continued to open nationally with a Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on May 2nd & 4th. The film received critical acclaim from multiple publications including The Atlantic and The Hollywood Reporter. In Country screened at Northwestern’s Block Cinema in October 2014.
Professor Kyle Henry’s documentary short Half-Life of War premiered at Philadelphia's Cinedelphia Film Festival in April 2015. With over 30 wars and 1.5 million dead soldiers memorialized at sites across the United States, the film asks how many of us see the radioactive trace of these past conflicts? The film was produced with a grant from the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund, a project of Voqal Fund administered by Chicago Filmmakers. Watch the film now here https://vimeo.com/102419300 Also, his Emily Dickinson bio-pic Wild Nights was chosen for Film Independent’s 2015 Fast Track program.
In April, award-winning Singaporean filmmaker and Northwestern alumnus Tan Pin Pin screened her acclaimed documentary To Singapore With Love at NU’s Peggy Helmerich Auditorium. Banned by the Singaporean government, To Singapore With Love depicts political activists who have not returned to their home country after decades in exile.
MFA in Documentary Media Affiliated Faculty member Brent Huffman premiered his documentary Saving Mes Aynak at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November. The film tells the story of a race against time to save a 5,000-year old archaeological site in Afghanistan. Saving Mes Aynak screened at Block Cinema in March. The film was produced in part from a $100,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation..
The MFA in Documentary Media was featured in the Spring 2015 Issue of Documentary Magazine. The interview with MFA in Documentary Media program director Deb Tolchinsky covers a range of topics including her background, the impetus for the creation of the Documentary Media program, why Chicago is a prime location for pursing that degree, future goals for the program, and more. - See more.
In March we celebrated the work of our MFA Doc Media students with a two night public screening of their Fall and Winter Quarter films. The Fall Quarter films featured work that was produced in the MFA Documentary Techniques graduate course while the Winter Quarter films featured work that was produced during the Narrative Techniques course focused on creating work that blends documentary and narrative practices.
In January, filmmaker Margaret Brown visited the MFAs and screened her SXSW Grand Jury Award winning documentary, The Great Invisible at Block Cinema. The Great Invisible tells the story of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and its impact on the Gulf Coast and beyond.
Throughout January and February 2015, the MFA in Documentary Media and the Block Museum collaborated on Lay of the Land, a documentary series exploring contemporary issues from the environment, to homelessness, the economy and more. Films featured in the series include: The Overnighters, The Great Invisible, Bugarach, and Marmato. The final night of the series featured short documentaries including Hacked Circuit by Chicago filmmaker Deborah Stratman and Notes on Blindness by James Spinney.