Friday, March 29, 2013

The Island President

Soka University Presents...
Community Cinema

The Island President

Thursday, April 18, 2013

7:00-8:30 PM

Pauling 216

FREE and open to the public!

The Filmmakers:
Jon ShenkDirector
Bonni CohenProducer
Richard BergeProducer

The Island President lifts the issue of global warming out of the theoretical and into the personal. President Mohamed Nasheed is trying to prevent 385,000 people from drowning. His nation of 1,200 low-lying islands, the Maldives, is sinking into the Indian Ocean as sea levels rise due to global warming. Climate change experts say that some of the islands will be submerged within 20 years, threatening the lives of the largely impoverished inhabitants as well as inundating the lavish resorts that dot the islands. Nasheed’s unprecedented contingency plan is to move his entire population to a new homeland. As he conducts serious discussions about this with Sri Lanka and Australia, Nasheed is doing all he can to prevent this looming disaster by trying to convince world leaders to halt global warming.

The Island President is a little like a non-fiction Mr. Smith Goes to Washington elevated to the world stage. The filmmakers received exclusive access to follow President Nasheed as he prepared over several months for the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit in December. The terms of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change were about to expire, and leaders from around the world converged on Copenhagen to hammer out a new treaty with renewed urgency. Go behind the scenes with President Nasheed as he tries to convince world leaders to finally take serious action against looming danger of climate change. The stakes couldn’t be higher for President Nasheed, who this as the last chance to save his homeland, and the world.

With Guest Panelists: Environmental Professor Monika Calef, Sociology Professor Ryan Caldwell, and representatives of the student-led Environmental Department

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Documentary Film Programs in the United States (a working list)


For those who are interested in previewing both academic and institutional documentary film programs in the United States, The Independent Magazine highlights the top ten documentary film programs in the country. Among these ten, is Duke University at number one, followed by George Washington University GWU, Stanford University and at number seven, UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism.
These specific schools all aim to have a focus in historical documentary studies and all provide their students with a wide range of skills that prepare them for more than just the mechanics of film making. Duke, Stanford, and UCB all offer a Masters Program of two years. Stanford representative says, “Master’s students get a solid grounding in theory and history, not to mention preparation for filmmaking in the real world …” [1]
The Documentary Center at offers a six month intensive course on documentary filmmaking in a small group- seminar setting. On a smaller scale, there is Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Art and on the East Coast there is the film studies program at both Syracuse and Wesleyan University. Comparably, both Chapman and Syracuse, and Wesleyan offer either a BA or an MFA Degree in filmmaking, but without the name, cost, and popularity of a program at the competitive “Hollywood Film” schools like USC or UCLA. "We're not a trade school," says Dean Bob Bassett from Chapman University. "We're focused on helping young people find jobs -- and that's the hardest thing." [2]  
Located in a more unexpected region like the southwest, University of Texas at Austin has a notably large selection of film classes for the Master’s Program in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film.
            Similarly, there are non-academic programs that are just as renowned for their dedication to documentary film making. The yearly film festival in Utah hosted by the Sundance Institute offers aspiring filmmakers engagement and funding opportunities to showcase their work and interests in human rights and other contemporary conflicts to an open audience. There is a two-year conservatory program held at the American Film Institute that works to “specialize” its student’s interests to their desired field within filmmaking. This Institute focuses more refining the skills of already developed film school students, and works to improve the mechanics of filmmaking, including script writing, directing, and producing. In contrast, the non-profit organization Film Independent  runs a program called the Project Involve  which focuses on helping create opportunities and environments for amateur documentary filmmakers who have powerful stories to tell, but not the means to share their work with the world. They aim to develop the skills of their artists in order to best showcase a filmmaker’s passions and interests through film. Film Independent works the Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival to launch award winning films like The Invisible War, El General, and A Small Act. Uniquely, they have Project Involve:
 “Which runs from October through June, [and] selects filmmakers from diverse backgrounds and filmmaking tracks – a mix of writers, directors, producers, DPs and editors, as well as those seeking work in acquisitions, marketing, distribution and agencies…During the nine months, the Fellows receive one-on-one mentorship, participate in a series of master workshops on the craft as well as the business of filmmaking, and work together to create a collection of short films. The program concludes in June when their short films premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.”[3]
For those who are interested in telling their own story through the digital format, The Center for Digital Storytelling is the perfect mix of film studies, history, and media/art education. Located in Berkeley, California, “the Center has transformed the way that community activists, educators, health and human services agencies, business professionals, and artists think about the power of personal voice in creating change.”[4] This organization offers workshops for film students to practice their skills and gain valuable insight into the creation of their own digital story. In collaboration with this center, a program called Silence Speaks  was created in 1999 to provide extended and more personalized workshop classes. These workshops aim to improve the way in which people communicate their own stories, narratives, and participate in meaningful projects through the digital format. With a wide range of studies from film production to art therapy, Silence Speaks is an empowering program for storytellers of all ages, backgrounds, and goals.
            With this mix of academic, non-academic, and non-profit educational documentary film programs, it may be hard to choose a program. Maybe you want a more intimate environment where you can grow and inspire your inner filmmaker—or maybe you want to be in Los Angeles where “it” all happens to show off your media expertise. Perhaps you are more interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of production and distribution, or how film can be the medium to voice your personal story of trial and triumph. Wherever your desires lie, hopefully you can find a program that best suits your needs as an aspiring film maker and student of documentary studies.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Wonder Woman: the Untold Story of American Superheroines

Soka University

Community Cinema

March 7th, 2013

7:00-8:30 PM

Guest Panelist: Dr. Ryan Caldwell

The Film:

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, Wonder Women! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society's anxieties about women's liberation.

The Filmmakers:
Kristy Guevara-FlanaganDirector
Kelcey EdwardsProducer