Comm Professor Shares His Love for Film

Shawn Shimpach, Ph.D.

A Comm professor will be at the helm of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival (MMFF) as it enters its 25th year. Shawn Shimpach, Ph.D., associate professor in the Communication department, has been appointed director of the MMFF. Shimpach, a self-described cinephile, who calls it a “sweet assignment,” will be curating the events, organizing the screenings, and coordinating with guest speakers and filmmakers.

“I am thrilled to become the director of the festival this year, especially, because the festival will be entering its 25th season, a truly remarkable milestone,” said Shimpach. “It is such a great opportunity to connect my work and my interests with the campus and surrounding community.”

What about his work? In his own research Shimpach is particularly interested in film as a social practice, so this opportunity allows him to engage in what he loves about the movies in a new and really direct way.

“I am also always learning, and the direction and curation of a festival like this is already teaching me to value arts programming and community engagement in new, maybe more concrete, maybe more nuanced, ways.”

The MMFF is an annual event that features fiction, documentary and experimental screenings by international filmmakers. The culturally diverse event has previously worked with many different individuals and organizations, such as the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and UMass Amherst Symphony Orchestra to screen silent films, as well as a film on hip-hop and political resistance from Senegal with the film’s director there to answer questions. In fact filmmakers from around the world frequently visit campus, attend screenings and speak with the audience as part of the MMFF. This has included a number of UMass alumni who are now filmmakers and have returned to show their work.

Shimpach describes the MMFF as “an appreciation of film and the moving image, to inspire audiences to a deeper understanding of the world’s cultures through film, to reimagine what the moving image can be and can do, and to celebrate past, present, and future achievements of international filmmaking within a university setting.”

This year’s theme is FILM LIVES!, which will feature ideas of resistance, struggle and vitality. The festival is free and open to the public including all members of the five-college campus communities.

“I think that arts programming is a truly significant form of community engagement.  At the same time, even as I think of this as programming for the campus and the community, I am seeing that it is also really meaningful for the filmmakers and artists.”

The Festival opens on February 28th, 2018 and will continue every Wednesday, except for spring break, until the end of April 2018. Learn more about the MMFF online.

--Summer Tuman '18