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.
In November, award-winning filmmaker Steve James taught a 3-hour master class exclusively for the MFA in Documentary Media students. The class examined James’s films and explored his personal ethics of documentary filmmaking and such topics as his keys to interviewing and always expecting the unexpected. In April, James joined the MFA in Documentary Media team as an adjunct instructor, co-teaching the MFA Thesis Seminar course.
In October, filmmaker Brian Lindstrom visited Northwestern to screen his documentary Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse. The film tells the story of James Chassse’s struggle with schizophrenia and examines the actions of police officers responsible for his death.
In October, the MFA in Documentary Media students attended the Chicago Humanities Festival panel presentation of the documentary, Radical Grace. Directed by Rebecca Parrish, Radical Grace tells the story of three nuns who risk their place in the Catholic Church to follow the higher calling of social justice.
Darius Clark Monroe, winner of the Independent Spirit Award’s Truer Than Fiction Award for an emerging filmmaker, visited the MFA students following a Chicago International Film Festival screening of his documentary Evolution of a Criminal. Monroe’s film tells the story of Monroe returning to his hometown to examine how his robbery of a bank affected his family, friends and other victims.
In October, Chicago’s New City Film released their Film 50 - Chicago Screen Gems issue. NU and the MFA in Doc Media faculty were well represented with adjunct instructor Steve James coming in at #1 on the list. Other department and program faculty members on the list include Melika Bass, Thomas Bradshaw, Maria Finitzo, Kyle Henry, Stephen Cone and NU Grads Joe Chappelle and Scott Dummler.
Filmmaker Nishtha Jain visited NU in October and screened her documentary Gulabi Gang. Jain’s film depicts a group of Indian women activists fighting against gender violence, caste oppression and corruption.
Filmmaker Haroula Rose, producer of the award wining Fruitvale Station and executive producer of the acclaimed documentary Heaven Adores You, visited with our MFA students. Rose has written and will direct the adaptation of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon A River, which was a Sundance Film Festival writer’s lab finalist. Haroula’s short films and videos have won awards and screened internationally.
American University in Bulgaria International Film Festival screened Rafi Drencheva, Jesseca Simmons film Particles, Carlos Cova’sRide. Fast. Now, João Querioga and Shuhan Fan’sSkye,Shuhan Fan’sEscalator, and Deborah Libby’sThe Healing Song.
Particles by Rafi Drencheva and Jesseca Simmons also screened at the Speechless Film Festival (Minnesota) and the Dirigo Film Festival (Bristol, UK).
Queergasm, an interdisciplinary performance, presented by Northwestern University's Queer Pride Graduate Student Association (QPGSA) featured the short-film premieres of MFA students Shuhan Fan and Jesseca Simmons and was co-curated by MFA João Queiroga.