The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Visiting Filmmakers

Filmmaking in the 21st Century: Visiting Professors Series

Interdepartmental Film Studies is happy to sponsor the Visiting Professors Series «Filmmaking in the 21st Century». The program regularly hosts award-winning international filmmakers and film scholars who offer classes in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, and other key areas of filmmaking. Students have an unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and enrich their portfolios. Enrollment priority is give to BDIC/Film majors and  Film Certificate students.


Natalia Cabral
Natalia Cabral

Natalia Cabral is a Dominican award-winning filmmaker whose work lives on the borderlines of fiction and nonfiction. Graduate of the distinguished EICTV Film School in Cuba, she founded her own production company Faula Films in 2012. Since then, she has directed, written, edited and produced, with partner Oriol Estrada, the feature films “You and Me”, “Site of Sites” and “Miriam Lies”. Natalia believes in the craft of filmmaking as a way of living. For her, creativity, passion and some audiovisual technical skills are all that is needed for creating and realizing minimalistic but powerful cinematic experiences. Her work has been presented at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and at the Anthology Film Archives in New York; it has also been selected and awarded at prestigious film festivals such as Visions du Réel, IDFA, Karlovy Vary, Chicago, Guadalajara, Havana, Toulouse, Huelva, among others.

Inspired by the mythical exercise "One to One " from The International School of Film and Television (EICTV) of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, Natala Cabral's class will teach students to research, think, plan, shoot and edit a 10 minute documentary work. The very name of the exercise refers to a strategy of collaboration. Two students work together by sharing authorial control – the director of the documentary film is also the director of photography, and her/his documentary colleague works as the boom operator and sound person. The pair switches roles to create multiple creative experiences. Before beginning shooting and postproduction of the documentary shorts, students will learn about minimalistic documentary approaches in cinema and will receive technical advice in camera, sound and editing. Through shooting and postproduction, students will receive mentorship as authors of their projects. The goal of the class is to
expand the experience of the practical work of cinema by teaching a collaborative and minimalistic way of working that challenges the agility and creativity of those involved, in addition to sharpening their technical skills in camera, sound and editing. 



David Bendiksen

David Bendiksen is an accomplished filmmaker, photographer, and teacher. He believes in what has been called the expressive use of equipment, ideas, materials, and processes. In an era of ever-increasing digital dominance, his creative work re-emphasizes the rich chemical, optical, and mechanical aspects of 16mm filmmaking and has been showcased by the Northampton Historical Society. As an interdisciplinary scholar and instructor, David believes in bridging the analog and digital divide in order to equip a new generation of students with the fullest possible set of creative tools to achieve their vision.
His dissertation, Technological Truths: Media and Materiality in French New Wave Cinema and International Pictorialism, bridges cinematography and photography in its study of avant-garde image-making technologies. As a Banff International Literary Translation Centre fellow his writing projects include translations of Cahiers du Cinéma, and his scholarly work on camera, lens, and photographic media developments across the 20th century sheds new light on film history through a unique attention to the tactility and materiality of cinematographic craft.
David is dedicated to building communities of current scholars and practitioners across the globe and has been remarkably active in curating photographic exhibitions, editing photographic publications, and in mounting exhibitions of his own photography, as well as making his own 16mm films. He has an extensive record of exhibitions, including “Yankee Yarns: The Photographs of Alton Hall Blackington, 1920-1939,” “Envisioning the America of Carl Sandburg, 1893-1934” and was director of the Tournées French Film Festival held at UMass Amherst in 2016.

16mm FILMMAKING AND TECHNOLOGY is an introductory workshop in 16mm single-camera filmmaking, non-linear editing, and film projection intended for students interested in pursuing further creative production and coursework in film, especially toward completion of the Certificate in Film Studies. Creative work is complemented by a rigorous selection of readings and screenings. Exploration of technological possibilities to broaden student creativity will be emphasized, and the development of personal vision and style will be stressed.



Patricia Montoya


Patricia Montoya draws on her Colombian American bi-national identity, queer, US/Mexico border, and East-West North American experience to tackle the existential conditions and cultural contradictions experienced by immigrants from Latin America who are living in the United States.  Her videos address issues of migration, memory, and identity through lyrical explorations of text, dialogue, and theatrical adaptations.  

Film-St 397Q   Production Sketchbook
Video, still images and sound are used in this course to explore the fundamental character of storytelling, filmmaking and time-based art practices. Students perform all aspects of production with particular attention to developing ideas and building analytical, critical and production skills. We will read seminal written work and interviews with practicing artists in order to expand our knowledge, understanding and love for the medium. Through exercises that include weekly projects students will produce sketches aimed at exploring video as an experimentation tool. There will be special emphasis paid to sound design that includes original music, and ambient sound gathered with separate sound recorder. The class will review students the basic theoretical tools to critique their own productions and develop an understanding of the possibilities that medium offers. Final project presentations due in class during Finals Week

Elliot Montague







Elliot Montague's films explore the nuances of trans and queer narratives through engagement with familial relationships, spirits, and rural landscapes. His work has contributed significantly to the current wave of "New Trans Cinema." Over the past two decades, Montague's films have received international recognition at dozens of festivals and museums, including the Media Arts Festival in Osnabruck, Germany, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Anthology Film Archives in New York, and the Dashanzi Arts Festival in Beijing, among others. Montague is a twice recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award from the Princess Grace Foundation and his films are partially distributed through Women Make Movies and Video Data Bank.
Montague's recent film, Light on a Path, Follow, (executive producer Patresse Cullors) tells the story of a Latinx transmasculine pregnant person who is guided by a birthworker spirit in 1990s rural Massachusetts (Pucumtuck and Nipmuck territories). This work was presented as part of the Trans*Revolutions Virtual Symposium, hosted by Barnard Center for Research on Women. This virtural symposium featured artist-activists whose work is inspired by and engaged in imagining trans* and genderqueer histories, performances, identities, and aesthetics.