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Film & Media Studies

Behind the scenes of TV studies class filming Swat-More

Department Overview

Film and media are crucial and pervasive dimensions of contemporary culture. The development of formal understanding, historical knowledge, and critical literacy about media texts, technologies, and practices is central to a liberal arts education in the twenty-first century. The Department of Film and Media Studies offers classes that explore the history, theory, aesthetics, and social and cultural aspects of media forms including cinema, television, online video, digital games, and media art. The program teaches research and analytical methods as well as digital production skills and approaches and encourages cross-cultural comparisons as well as attention to audiences and institutions. Our hybrid curriculum blends critical studies with critical making, often within the same course.

Swarthmore Student Film Highlights

fall 2024 FMST course flyers

FMST fall 2024 course offerings

students acting on stage

Students act in original, student-led musical, ASHES of Fate.

Yoel Roth '11 gives a talk, Decentralizing Online Safety: The Promises and Perils of Federated Social Media.

Anna Shechtman sitting at table with red tablecloth with copies of her book to sign.

Anna Shechtman '13 signs copies of her book, The Riddles of the Sphinx: Inheriting the Feminist History of the Crossword Puzzle

Dr. Byron Craig gives a talk to students in Singer Hall 033

Dr. Byron Craig gives a talk, 'What? They Cloned Tyrone?': Fandom, Race, and Critical Race Consciousness.

Professor Simon's FMST 001 class's introduction to VR in the LibLab space in McCabe led by Digital Librarian, Amanda Licastro.

NYT culture critic J Wortham and Professor Patty White converse at BlackStar Selects: Queer Futures with J Wortham. Students, faculty, and staff enjoyed the discussion and the selection of short documentaries from Philadelphia's BlackStar Film Festival at this exciting event presented by the Aydelotte Foundation and the Sager Series.

4 students chat outside Kohlberg Hall in the courtyard

Students chat at the 2023 FMST Fall Social.

Sunka Simon sitting in a classroom at the head of wooden table in a beam of sunlight.

FMST Chair, Professor Sunka Simon, leads a department meeting.

The FMST class of 2023 poses in their class t-shirts with Professor White and Professor Rehak at the end of semester spring picnic.

Students at the premiere of Television Studies' mockumentary, Swat-More.

FMST 090 Film and Media Studies Capstone field trip at AMC Theatres in Philadelphia.

Victor Pineiro

Victor Piñeiro '00 gives a talk on career paths to students.

Isabel Sandoval Q&A after screening of Lingua Franca

Students attend Q&A with writer/director and star Isabel Sandoval after a screening of her film, Lingua Franca.

Noah Lang '10 of Witchcraft Motion Picture Company gives a talk, Practical Producing 101.

Sunka Simon Introducing Nosferatu at Screening.

FMST Chair Sunka Simon introducing the film Nosferatu before screening with live organ accompaniment by Andrew Hauze.

Photo by Larry Kesterson
Screening of Understory (dir. Jake Rothman '23 and Manny Rothman, 2022).

Screening of Understory (dir. Jake Rothman '23 and Manny Rothman, 2022).

FMST 009 Women and Popular Culture class field trip at AMC Theatres in Philadelphia.

FMST 009 Women and Popular Culture night out at the movies.

Associate Professor Rodney Evans And Rubing Zhang '22 at Outfest40

Associate Professor Rodney Evans and Rubing Zhang '22 at the world premiere of Zhang's short film, WUSS, at Outfest40 Los Angeles.

Associate Professor Rodney Evans, Julian Turner '18, and Kyungchan Min '18 at the world premiere of short film, MAY, at SXSW.

Associate Professor Rodney Evans, Julian Turner '18, and Kyungchan Min '18 at the world premiere of short film, MAY, at SXSW. MAY was directed by Turner with Min as cinematographer.

John Cameron Mitchell answers student questions after film screening.

Director, actor, screenwriter, and playwright, John Cameron Mitchell, answers student questions after a screening of his cult classic creation, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Alumni Teddy Pozo '09 and Claudia Lo '16 present to students during FMST's Queer Game Day event.

Alumni Teddy Pozo '09 and Claudia Lo '16 present to students during FMST's Queer Game Day event.

Associate Professor Rodney Evans accepting the Frameline Award from Executive Director Paul Struthers.

Associate Professor Rodney Evans accepting the Frameline Award from Executive Director Paul Struthers.

Photo by Pamela Gentile

FMST fall 2024 course offerings

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FMST Alumni Recent Projects

“This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity.”

- The Center for Independent Documentary

“As for my involvement, it was my first feature documentary work as the colorist! I was grateful to be put in touch with the team through Laura Heberton, the producer of the film. It was an incredibly rewarding creative process that spanned two months, during which I worked to bring together the diverse range of footage filmed on multiple cameras over three years. The “look” came about as we wanted to imbue a filmic density to the image while maintaining a solid sense of realism. Please keep up with future screenings on the website or Instagram.” 

- Kyungchan Min '18
 

Grace Dumdaw '21 recently directed a music video for “JUNGLE”, a song by their band, Chanpan. Grace is the vocalist in the band, formed by twin instrumentalists, Lance Tran and Matthew Tran. Chanpan has been mentioned in The New York Times and Vogue.

DJ Chan '19 directed, wrote, and edited Pride of Puglia.

"Pride of Puglia is a short documentary that explores the LGBTQ+ community of Puglia, a region in Southern Italy. The film highlights the role drag performers and activists play in uplifting queer issues in the region and spreading queer joy through their work. In the 2022 Italian general election, the center-right coalition led by Giorgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy won a majority of seats in the Italian Parliament, and Meloni was appointed the new Prime Minister of Italy. Under the current far right political climate, it is important to highlight the issues faced by LGBTQ+ communities in Italy. Ultimately, Pride of Puglia is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in Puglia amidst a distressing reality."

Still from KILL showing a man looking straight forward while another man standing behind him and wearing camo holds a knife against his neck

“I worked on an action film called KILL, which is a wall-to-wall melee combat action film set in a train. I worked as 2nd Assistant Director (Action) and was responsible for all the action elements of the film including the choreography & rehearsals, prosthetics, weapons and props, special effects, and visual effects departments. The film is produced by Sikhya and Dharma, which are two of the biggest film studios in India and the producers are Guneet Monga and Karan Johar, who are two of the most groundbreaking and forward-thinking producers working today. The film is currently making festival rounds after having had its premiere at TIFF 2023. It is set to release in India and worldwide sometime early next year.”

- Vishnu Gupta '18

Still from The Lights Above of characters sitting down readings newspapers

Abhinav Tiku '18 edited a USC thesis film called The Lights Above, a historical sci-fi movie directed by Luke Salewski. Set shortly after the Battle of Los Angeles in 1942, the story concerns a Californian journalist who reluctantly teams up with a Japanese-American photographer to uncover the mystery behind this anomaly in the midst of World War II. The Lights Above has been submitted to several film festivals and is currently on the circuit.

photo of Author Elizabeth Rusch wearing a black shirt and smiling outside

Ilana Epstein '21 has been working freelance writing gigs, including the pretty cool one of writing profiles and reviews for Kirkus. Check out one of her most recent pieces, “Writing the First Draft of Climate Change History”

“Elizabeth Rusch’s latest book, The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the US Government Over Climate Change (Greenwillow Books, Sept. 26), tells the ongoing story of Juliana v. United States. In the landmark case, filed in 2015, a group of 21 youth plaintiffs sued the federal government for its contribution to the worsening of climate change and for violating their constitutional rights to a safe, clean, and healthful environment in the process.”

- Ilana Epstein '21

Photo by Lynn Spencer

Ariana Hoshino '20 created a personal short documentary, Memories of Romania, on 16mm film. Ariana works as a cinematographer based in Los Angeles, spanning narrative, documentary, music videos, and commercial projects.

Natasha Markov-Riss '20 just finished the Salt Institute for Documentary Filmmaking certificate program, and made a short documentary, CloudGaze, about the physical infrastructure of the so-called "cloud" in Portland, Maine. It showed at Space Gallery in Portland, Maine on December 14th, 2023.

“After working in immigration and criminal justice reform as a multimedia producer in San Francisco from 2017 to 2020, I decided to pivot the focus of my work to climate change impacts. I moved to San Diego to study climate science and policy solutions at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There, I learned about the ongoing environmental catastrophe at the Salton Sea, and decided to focus my thesis project on covering the human health impacts of this disaster through a documentary film. The Salton Sea today is shrinking at an unprecedented rate due to reductions in water availability, which itself has many causes. The shrinking of the lake has, among other things, created a massive health crisis for the people living near the lake as toxins and dust end up in their lungs. In "Out of Breath: Salton Sea", I look at why this is happening and how people on the frontlines of this crisis are dealing with it.”

- Martin Froger Silva '16

“This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity.”

- The Center for Independent Documentary

“As for my involvement, it was my first feature documentary work as the colorist! I was grateful to be put in touch with the team through Laura Heberton, the producer of the film. It was an incredibly rewarding creative process that spanned two months, during which I worked to bring together the diverse range of footage filmed on multiple cameras over three years. The “look” came about as we wanted to imbue a filmic density to the image while maintaining a solid sense of realism. Please keep up with future screenings on the website or Instagram.” 

- Kyungchan Min '18
 

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New Swatties Talk Media

The Swarthmore College FMST Department asked incoming students several questions about film and media. Featuring interviewees Sakura Barthelemy '27, Logan Aboudara '27, Jenna Martinez '27, Ara-Oluwa Jacob '27, and Vanessa Amsinger '25. Videography by Gaven Green '24.

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