From Comparative Literature to Communication, Anthropology to Art, faculty in the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies come from a vast array of departments and disciplines in both the Social Sciences and the Humanities and Fine Arts. Core faculty conduct research and teach courses in national and transnational film, film history and genre, social and political intersections with film and other screen media. Students in the program benefit from faculty who specialize in the art and science of cinema and television production, including documentary filmmaking, screenwriting, cinematography, and editing, as well as studies in photography and the visual arts.
At the helm of the Film Studies program is Director Barbara Zecchi, Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, whose research and teaching interests include European and Latin American cinemas, feminist film theory, film adaptation theory, gender studies, and the use of technology in the humanities.
Undergraduate interns assist with important day-to-day work running the office, acting as liaisons between the program and the student community, and support in organizing events, particularly the responsibilities involved in mounting the annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival in the spring.
Born in the UK and raised in Italy, where she received a Laurea cum laude from the Università Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Barbara Zecchi holds two Master’s Degrees (in Spanish Literatures and Cultures from the University of California San Diego and in Italian Studies from the University of California Los Angeles). She also holds a Certificate in Screenwriting from the University Juan Carlos I of Madrid, Spain, and a PhD in Romance Studies from the University of California Los Angeles, with a dissertation entitled The Representation of Rape and the Rape of Representation: Sexual/Textual Violence in Spain and Italy.
Zecchi’s research and teaching interests include European and Latin American cinema, feminist film theory, film adaptation theory, gender studies, and the use of technology in the humanities.
In addition to a dozen video-graphic essays, presented in the US, UK, Spain, Italy and Mexico, she has authored some 50 articles and book chapters, three monographic books, and seven edited volumes. Her first monograph, Desenfocadas/Out of Focus, develops an analysis of the historical evolution of women film production through four generations of Spanish women directors. La pantalla sexuada/The Gendered Screen is a cross-sectional study of the major concepts that have been influential in feminist film theory. El género del género/The Gender of Genres (in progress) focuses on the most common genres of women film production, such as melodrama, comedy and thriller, among others.
She has received numerous invitations to teach as visiting professor in the United States and Europe and has lectured extensively in the United States, Canada, Spain, Italy, UK, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Zecchi is the co-founder and vice-president of the international research network CinemAGEnder, based in Birmingham. The main objective of this group is to study ageism in visual cultures. She is also the founder and director of the UMass Gynocine Project, an open-access online database on the History of Spanish Cinema by women.
She has been part of two research projects funded by the Spanish Government: Images of the Other (University Carlos III of Madrid) and Body and Textuality (University of Barcelona). She has recently been invited to be part of GECA (Gender, Aesthetic and Audiovisual Culture, University Complutense of Madrid), an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental and interuniversity LGBT research group that fosters non-discriminatory policies in film and other audio-visual productions.
She is the founder and co-organizer of the UMass Catalan Film Festival, partially funded by a grant from the Catalan government and by the Spanish Consulate, and oversees the curation of the UMass Latin American Film Festival. She has also collaborated as a member of the jury in the Cines del Sur Film Festival of Granada (Spain) and Gender Lab MicGénero Film Festival in Mexico and Argentina.
She was recently appointed Associate Member of the Film Academy of Spain.
Shawn Shimpach is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Co-Director of the Five College Film Council. He has been curator and co-curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival since 2014. He teaches courses on Film History, Genre, Media Institutions, Television Studies, Textuality, and Media Historiography. His research interests include the cultural history of film, television, and media; the social and institutional constructions of the media audience; genre theory and screen genres; and screen industries. His work focuses on the value and meanings created at the conjuncture of cultural, institutional, and textual practice. His book Television in Transition: The Life and Afterlife of the Narrative Action Hero (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) combines and connects analysis of the contemporary television industry with close readings of four individual programs to explain how innovation takes place and meaning is produced amid changing institutional configurations. His work has also appeared in Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics, American Quarterly, Feminist Media Histories, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, and such collections as Media and Public Spheres (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), the Handbook of Media Audiences (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and the Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture (Routledge, 2015). He is editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Global Television scheduled for publication in 2019.
Anne Ciecko is Associate Professor of Film in the Communication Department. Her current and ongoing research interests are focused on international cinema, primarily non-western cinema (Cinemas of the Global South)--especially Arab, Asian, and African cinema; international co-productions; diasporic audiences; international transmedia stardom and celebrities; international film festivals; Afropop and Arabpop music and film; intercultural film/video and multimedia installations by women. Her writing has appeared in the following academic journals and arts publications: Afterimage, Asian Cinema, Asian Journal of Communication, Cinema Journal, Cinemaya, Film Quarterly, History, Journal of Film and Video, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Literature/Film Quarterly, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Spectator: Journal of Film and Television Criticism, Tamkang Review, Velvet Light Trap, and others. Her authored or coauthored articles have been published in the anthologies Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World (New York University Press, 2007), Global Currents: Media and Technology Now (Rutgers University Press, 2004), Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers (Routledge, 2002, and the 2nd edition Fifty Contemporary Film Directors, 2010), Transnational Chinese Cinemas (University of Hawaii, 1997), and others. She is also editor of the book Contemporary Asian Cinema: Popular Culture in a Global Frame (Berg, 2006) and a special issue of the journal Quarterly Review of Film and Video on the International Film Star (Volume 19.1, 2002).
Catherine Portuges is founding director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies and founding curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and professor emerita, Program in Comparative Literature/Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. She is a frequent lecturer at international conferences, an invited programmer, curator, juror and consultant for film festivals and colloquia, and a delegate to international film festivals. Her books include Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (Temple, 2013); Gendered Subjects (Routledge, 2012); and Screen Memories: the Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros (Indiana, 1993). Her essays have appeared in Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema; Cinema, State Socialism and Society in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1917-1989: Re-Visions; Bringing the Dark Past to Light: the Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe; Projected Shadows: Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Representation of Loss in European Cinema, and A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas. Prof. Portuges serves on the editorial board of Studies in Eastern European Cinema (UK), Jewish Film and New Media, and Hungarian Cultural Studies; she is associate editor for film for American Imago. She is a member of the Academic Advisory Board, Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, and Film Consultant for Eastern Europe, European Psychoanalytic Film Festival (UK). She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for "The Subjective Lens," the Pro Cultura Hungarica Medal from the Republic of Hungary for her contributions to Hungarian Cinema, and the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Teaching.
Kevin Taylor Anderson is a visual anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker with experience shooting films in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Japan, Italy, India, Mexico, Alaska, and Ireland. He has published scholarly articles on Reality Television, Ethnographic Film, Documentary Film, and Medical Anthropology, and is currently finishing post-production on two films: Layers of Pompeii and Awakening the Internal Sound: the music and mission of Rabindra Goswami. Kevin has taught film studies and anthropology courses at Tufts University, Clark University, Seattle University, and currently is Lecturer in Media, Culture, and Visual Methods in the Communication Department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His heroes are Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, and Basho.Selected Filmography
Awakening the Internal Sound: the music and mission of Rabindra
BioDoc, 2017, 20 m.
Layers of Pompeii, Documentary, 2017, 26 m.
Tokunbo, Ethnographic Documentary, 2011, 39 m.
Ghost of Summer, Experimental, 2010, 9 m.
Towards the Within, Experimental Ethnography, 2007, 3 m.
Ethiopia and the Legend of the Ark (camera), Ethno-Historical Documentary, 2000, 48 m.
BlocBusters: The Cinema of East Germany (camera), Educational, 1999, 20 m.
In-Hand, Experimental, 1991, 9 m.
Barton Byg is Professor in German & Scandinavian Studies, where his teaching focuses on German and international cinema. Research interests include documentary, culture of the Cold War, and memory culture. As a Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor from 2005 to 2008, he taught courses at Hampshire and Smith Colleges—on Brecht and world cinema, landscape and cinema, and color. He also recently taught a new course on early Scandinavian Cinema with visiting professor Louise Wallenberg, film scholar and director of the Center for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University. In fall 2011 he was awarded the Reinhold Schünzel Award of CineGraph Hamburg. The Reinhold Schünzel Award is an honorary prize awarded for long-time achievements in the field of restoration, preservation or dissemination and popularization of the German and European film heritage. Professor Byg is author of the book Landscapes of Resistance: The German Films of Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub (University of California Press, 1995), and is founding director of the DEFA Film Library, the only archive, distributor and study center outside Europe devoted to East German film and related works (www.umass.edu/defa).
Bruce Geisler is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication, where he teaches video production, screenwriting, and documentary filmmaking.
He is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker whose recent feature length documentary, Free Spirits, played in movie theaters and film festivals nationalwide. He earned an MFA in film production and screenwriting from the film school at the University of Southern California.
Olga Gershenson is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She got her BA in Russia, her MA in Israel, and her PhD in the US. Her personal geography parallels her academic path tracking Russian-Jewish culture at home and abroad. For years she followed Russian immigrant cultural production in Israel: she published Gesher: Russian Theater in Israel (2005) about a unique bilingual theater in Tel Aviv, and a series of articles about Russian-Israeli cinema. Then she detoured into studying gender and power relations, and published a collection Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (2009). Back on her Russian-Jewish track, she has recently finished writing a book about the unknown, forgotten, or banned Holocaust films in the Soviet Union (soon to be published by Rutgers UP). Olga Gershenson teaches courses on Jewish cultural studies, such as "Jewish Theater and Film" or "Israeli and Palestinian Popular Cultures."
Susan Jahoda is an artist, educator, and organizer whose work includes video, photography, text, performance, installation and research based collaborative projects. Works have been produced for venues in London, Paris, Basel, New York, Seoul, and Moscow. Currently, Jahoda is a core member of BFAMFAPhD and The Pedagogy Group, collectives of socially engaged artists and educators based in New York City.
Jahoda has organized exhibitions and screenings including Documents from the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, Interference Archive, Brooklyn, (2014-15), Susan Kleckner and Documents from the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, (2013) , The Martha Rosler Library, and Beyond the Instance of an Ending, (2009), Setting in Motion (2006), and Global Priority (2002), This is My body: this is My Blood, (1992), Herter Art Gallery, UMass, Amherst. She has published short stories and essays including "Spring Flowers," in Class and its Others , University of Minnesota Press, (2000) and "Theatres of Madness",in Deviant Bodies, Indiana University Press, (1995). In 1993, Jahoda joined the collective and journal, Rethinking Marxism, where she continued to serve as arts editor until 2014.
Don Eric Levine, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, teaches a variety of film courses in the Department of Comparative Literature, including Avant-Garde Film, International Film Noir, Fassbinder and Godard, and Gay(ze) in Cinema. He is also advisor for the film analysis track in the Comparative Literature program.
Patrick Mensah is Associate Professor of French and Director of French and Francophone Studies. He earned his doctorate at Cornell University where he wrote his dissertation on "The Politics of Masquerade: On the Ethical and Epistemological Dilemmas and Debts of Theatrical Language in Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Rousseau, and Contemporary Thought." His research interests include enlightenment studies, critical theory, cultural theory, and post-colonial discourses. He has taught courses and supervised independent studies on postcolonial theory, contemporary critical theory, Francophone African film, Caribbean women’s writing, ‘love and sex’ in French culture, critical and textual analysis, to name a few. He is the translator of Jacques Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other; or, the Prosthesis of Origin, Stanford University Press, 1998.
Martin Norden is Professor of Film Studies in the Communication Department. His teaching interests include film history/theory/criticism and screenwriting. He has published more than sixty articles and reviews in journals such as Wide Angle, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Film Criticism, Film & History, and Paradoxa, and in numerous anthologies. A Spanish translation of his book, The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies (Rutgers, 1994), was published by Fundacion ONCE in 1998. He is also the author of John Barrymore: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood, 1995) and the book review editor for the Journal of Popular Film and Television.
With a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, with a focus in visual culture, Daniel Pope pursues a broad array of research and teaching interests across genres, national boundaries, and cultural histories. His film courses engage national cinemas, including American, French, and Italian cinemas, as well as topics in transnational cinemas, questions of film realism, modes of film criticism, including new media, such as videographic essays and podcasts. His recent teaching centers on such film genres as apocalyptic cinema, enigmatic or “puzzle” films, psychological thrillers, “poetic” and experimental documentaries, and speculative cinema. Daniel Pope’s research explores photography, realism, and figural approaches to nonfiction narratives. As Assistant Curator of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, he interviews prominent filmmakers and artists from around the world, including Can Candan, Diana Groó, Lech Majewski, Signe Baumane, and Kevin Everson. Pope is a Fulbright Scholar who has published work in Studies in East European Cinema as well as a chapter in Searching for Sebald (2007).
Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz, Assistant Professor (Ph.D. University of Alabama), teaches in the Department of Communication at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently working on a manuscript that looks at the production and signification of African American female stars in film and television during the 1960s. Her essay “Birth through Conflict: TV Responds to the Politics of Race in 1968,” appears in the anthology America Viewed and Skewed: Television Situation Comedies (SUNY Press, October 2005). Her teaching and research interests include filmic and television production practices and the construction of identity, African filmmaking and aesthetic practices, African American women in situation-comedy and reality television, democracy and community media, underrepresented communities in mainstream media, and digital storytelling.
Jonathan Skolnik. His areas of research and teaching include German-Jewish Studies, Film Studies, and intellectual history. In addition to being core faculty in Film Studies at UMass, he is also affiliated faculty in the Department of History and the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, and directs the PhD program, in German Studies. His book Jewish Pasts, German Fictions (Stanford, 2014) is a study of history, memory, and historical fiction. Skolnik is the author of articles on Fritz Lang, Edgar Ulmer, and Grigori Roshal. His recent film courses include “Exile Cinema”; “Representing the Holocaust”; “Terrorism Narratives”; “Eisler: Film, Music, Theory”; and “Berlin to Hollywood.”
Barry A. Spence, Ph.D., has taught film at Smith College as well as at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is currently Undergraduate Program Director and Chief Undergraduate Advisor in the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies. He teaches courses on film theory, introduction to cinema studies, cinematic time travel, cyborg cinema, dystopian film, French film, comedy, New York City as a cinematic city, and the cinematic reception of Ancient Greek tragedy. A specialist in narratology, Ancient Greek oral epic and tragedy, and the modernists James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, his current research focuses on modernist cinema and the films of Chris Marker, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Agnès Varda. He has published in Skenè: Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies, as well as in Phoenix and Bryn Mawr Classical Review. He was recently invited to give a talk at the University of Verona, Italy, on the influence of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus on the theater of Samuel Beckett. He is a two-time recipient of a Five College Innovative Language Learning Mellon Foundation grant, joining Greek professors from Smith College and Mt. Holyoke College in the development of a website on Homeric Greek learning resources.
Jacqueline Urla, Professor of Anthropology, teaches visual anthropology with special interests in ethnographic film and indigenous media. She conducts research on minority politics, social movements, historical memory, and the semiotics of resistance. Her career in visual anthropology was launched in 1992 when she worked on an interdisciplinary project funded by a Getty Senior Research Grant exploring the representation of whiteness in native peoples' art, material culture, and visual media. She served as Interim Director of the Film Studies Program (2006-2008) and curated two editions of the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival: “Encuentros: New Cinema of Latin America and Spain” (2007) and “Africanicities: Conflict and Community” (2008) featuring the visit of actor/activist Danny Glover.
Barbara Bolibok is a Lecturer in the Comparative Literature Department and has taught courses on Polish Film, Polish and Russian Writers, Russian literature, and Polish language. Her theoretical and research interests are interdisciplinary. In analyzing cinematic texts, Bolibok draws on the language of psychoanalysis as a source of nuanced understanding of symbolic processes and rich metaphors. She is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the capacity of film as an art form to symbolically work through cultural traumas. Her research interests include Polish cinema, the work of Polish female directors, the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and psychoanalytic approaches to film interpretation. Her work in literary studies focuses on the poetics of self-representation in the writings of Polish and Russian women autobiographers.
In addition to earning a PhD in Russian literature from Cornell University and her academic teaching, Bolibok graduated from the Smith College School for Social Work with a MSW degree and is a practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapist in Northampton. Her publications appeared in The Russian Review, Smith Studies in Social Work, and Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature.
Gilbert McCauley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Co-founder/Associate Artistic Director of Art n Soulplay, and Artistic Associate at New WORLD Theater. He has served as the Producing Artistic Director of the Oakland Ensemble Theatre, Resident Director at Rites and Reason Theatre, and an acting company member of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. He has also served on the theater faculties at the University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and University of Rhode Island at Kingston. Mr. McCauley has directed Off-Broadway and at regional theatres around the country including Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Old Globe Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the National Theatre of Ghana. His most recent directing credits include Piano Lesson by August Wilson, and most recently his own play Crossing John at the Crossroads.
Tom Benedek is a renown screenwriter nominated for prestigious awards such as the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay, among others. He has completed more than thirty-five writing assignments at major studios, independent production companies and TV networks, including the screenplay for the film Cocoon. Along the way, he has worked with Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner and many other amazingly talented filmmakers. Tom earned his Bachelor’s Degree with an Individual Concentration in Film at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and attended L’Institut de Formation Cinematographique in Paris and is a graduate of the Director’s Program at the American Film Institute.
Originally from Barcelona, David Casals-Roma received a BA in Film & Media from the Birkbeck University of London. He has extended his studies in direction, screenwriting and production in Spain, United Kingdom, France, Italy and the United States. He has written, produced and directed short films and documentaries, and his work has received more than 100 awards worldwide. He teaches directing and screenwriting at different film schools in Spain and France. As a script doctor he worked on Death of Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) by Belgian director Tom van Avermaet, a short film that was nominated for the Oscars as Best Fiction Short Film. As well as filmmaking, he has written two novels and has been a screenwriter for other projects. He speaks fluent Catalan, English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Carolyn Anderson, in the Department of Communication, specializes in documentary film; media historiography; film-television genre theory and criticism; and the cinema of the 1960s. Her publications include Reality Fictions: The Films of Frederick Wiseman (co-authored with Thomas W. Benson, Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), and Documentary Dilemmas: Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies (co-authored with Benson, Southern Illinois University Press, 1991).
Ernest Allen Jr. is a Professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies where he teaches courses in Afro-American History and Black Studies. His publications engage historical, cultural and philosophical questions on topics ranging from Du Boisian "double consciousness" to "message rap," from the Nation of Islam, to Japanese/African American relations.
Laszlo Dienes is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures in the Comparative Literature Department. He regularly teaches "Russia in Film" and "Russian and Soviet Culture." He has published Russian Literature in Exile: The Life and Work of Gajto Gazdanov (Otto Sagner Publishers, Munich, 1982). His recent scholarly work focuses on the writing and cinema of East European emigre artists.
José Ornelas is a Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. His research interests include Contemporary Portuguese Narrative, Lusophone African Narrative, Women Writers, Cinema and Drama. His scholarly work has appeared in many journals and books in the U.S. and abroad. He has published mostly on contemporary Portuguese writers, including the ’98 Nobel Prize winner in literature, José Saramago. In 2007, he co-edited with Paulo de Medeiros a volume on Saramago, Da possibilidade do impossível: Leituras de Saramago.
Daphne Patai is a Professor of Portuguese in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Her B.A. (Indiana University) was in Comparative Literature, and her Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, Madison) was in Portuguese. She teaches and writes about Brazilian literature and film, translation studies, utopian film and fiction, literary theory, oral history, feminism and women's studies, and problems in higher education. She is the author and editor of over a dozen books, among them: Myth and Ideology in Contemporary Brazilian Literature(1983); The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology (1984), Brazilian Women Speak: Contemporary Life Stories (1988); Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (1991, co-edited with Sherna Berger Gluck); Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals: British Women Writers 1889-1939 (1993, co-edited with Angela Ingram); and Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (1998). Her ten years with a joint appointment in women's studies led to her 1994 book Professing Feminism, written with Noretta Koertge, which was reissued in a new and expanded edition in 2003 as Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies. Together with Will H. Corral, Patai edited a large volume of essays entitled Theory’s Empire: An Anthology of Dissent (Columbia University Press, 2005). A volume of Patai's own essays, entitled ‘What Price Utopia?’: Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs, was published in 2008 (Rowman & Littlefield). A selection of her essays was recently published in Brazil as História Oral, Feminismo e Política (Letra e Voz, 2010).