Studying film at UNC both sharpened my skills as a critical thinker and motivated my decision to pursue a MA/PhD career path at UC Santa Barbara. Film analysis and global cinema courses familiarized me with the basic language of film and allowed me to hone the necessary analytical skills to write papers in film history, film theory, and critical theory. Plentiful electives including courses on surrealism and cinema, the Western, Gothic horror, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock introduced me to diverse perspectives and theoretical writings. Moreover, various film series in conjunction with the Ackland Art Museum offered opportunity to engage with film culture alongside the broader public of Chapel Hill. These experiences and courses informed my honors thesis, which enriched my critical writing skills and ability to engage in rigorous theories, ultimately earning the distinction of Highest Honors. The combination of insightful film courses and encouraging faculty provided me with the experience and support network to further my academic career at the graduate level. My work at UNC also prepared me to become a published essayist on films and video games.
Miguel Penabella, class of 2015
PhD Student at UC Santa Barbara, Film & Media Studies
In a world inundated with images, the power to understand and analyze what all forms of media intend is not only helpful, but essential. I began taking classes in the English & Comparative Literature department through the cinema program, initially taking Film Analysis with Dr. Gregory Flaxman, which required us to not only consider the thematic content of film, but more importantly the distinct language of the motion picture. I took courses in many departments, but the classes I found the most insightful were the courses in film. The exercise of watching movies and engaging actively with them developed my critical thinking skills and nurtured a creative perspective that encouraged free-form associations. The most significant part of my college experience was the opportunity to direct and produce a 50-min narrative film. Under the guidance of Dr. Todd Taylor and Dr. Rick Warner, the English & Comparative Literature department was the only place that gave me the freedom to pursue a Senior Honors Thesis in the form of a feature film which tested my writing, project management, and artistry. I had the honor of having the film premiere at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street, and now my framed movie poster hangs on the wall in Graham Memorial. Although this experience gave me the opportunity to pursue a career in filmmaking, I chose instead to pursue a legal career, where my background and skill set have proven to be not only unique but crucial. The understanding of narrative and presentation is relevant in any industry. In the legal field, the difference between a lawyer who merely makes his case and a lawyer who can craft a story for the jury is remarkable. In my experience, the jury has always sided with the latter.
Prakash Kadiri, class of 2017
Law Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I took my first film course the second semester of junior year, and in reflecting on my time as an undergraduate, it was perhaps the best decision I made. The global cinema minor helped me hone the visual analysis skill-set I’d developed through my art history major, and ultimately reignited my own art practice that I’d since neglected. Now, as I look toward an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Art, I’m indebted to the wonderful experiences I had through UNC Film Studies. If you are considering taking a film course, go for it! The classes are intellectually engaging, challenging (but not intimidating), and fun.
Archer Boyette, class of 2017
MFA|EDA candidate at Duke University
Minoring in Global Cinema perfectly matched my interests in social justice. I was exposed to great films and learned how to dissect images for their social relevance. I gained writing and research skills that have served me well as a law student and aspiring attorney.
Sarah-Frances Nemeroff, 2013
Law Student, UNC-Chapel Hill