My experience at Carolina was fully shaped by UNC’s Film Studies program. I already had a passion for cinema and informal experience writing film criticism, but over the next four years, following the Film Studies concentration gave me the critical faculties to explore many avenues within the discipline, addressing everything from the building blocks of film analysis and global film history to detailed surveys of topics like horror cinema and the philosophy of film comedy. I also had the chance to work closely with the terrific Film Studies faculty. With their guidance, I wrote an Honors Thesis on questions of duration and slowness in contemporary cinema. Through this process, I learned what it took to conduct scholarly research in film studies and how to properly and rigorously engage with film theory and criticism. The thesis was a challenging and immensely rewarding experience that vastly improved my writing and prepared me to succeed in graduate school and beyond.
Josh Martin, class of 2021
Master of Arts candidate in Cinema and Media Studies, University of Southern California
I am endlessly grateful to have had the opportunity to follow the Film Studies Concentration at Carolina. The classes were fascinating, and grew to shape not only my viewing experience, but my own craft as well. Now, pursuing a career in filmmaking in LA, I have a deep understanding of the tools at my disposal, and can manipulate them to tell a story in ways I never would have been able to without the Film Studies Concentration. To anyone who is considering an interest in filmmaking, sign up for a theory class yesterday!
Julia Stamey, class of 2021
I came to Carolina with the intent of solely pursuing a research career in Neuroscience — however — my decision to complete the Film Studies Concentration alongside my Neuroscience degree was the best decision I made during my undergraduate career. The Film Studies program developed my writing and critical thinking skills in ways that an exclusively STEM-based education never could. The courses and instructors are engaging and enriching, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy films with classmates outside of the lecture hall. These courses have also liberated me from thinking about my scientific research from an exclusively physical-reductionist approach; I now approach my studies of the mind with a balanced, multi-disciplinary perspective. Through this program, it became clear to me that film and art are investigative sciences in their own right, and can often reveal insights that the hard sciences cannot.
Lexi Baird, Class of 2021
Clinical Research Fellow, Duke Brain Imaging Analysis Center
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 University of California, Santa Barbara, Film and Media Studies
I am so thrilled that I was able to add the Film Studies Concentration. As a filmmaker, learning about film history and theory in a classroom space definitely helped me think more about how some of my creative decisions could be understood by an audience.
Hayley Sigmon, class of 2019
MFA student at Northwestern University, Writing for the Screen and Stage
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 Experimental & Documentary Arts candidate at Duke University
The qualitative analytical skills I learned under the careful guidance of Film Studies professors proved to be invaluable in my career, first in finance and later in the Peace Corps. Learning about other peoples and their cultures is both challenging and exciting but also a necessity in a rapidly globalizing world. The emphasis that many film and literature classes place on the importance of knowing other languages helped inspire me to study French in West Africa. Whether you want to be a writer, an economist, or a doctor, studying film will add depth to your education and will open doors both academically and professionally.
Gabriel Shores, class of 2015
Masters of International Affairs program, Columbia 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, class of 2013
Law Student, UNC-Chapel Hill
October 2019 marked the first year of OFFSCREEN: INTERACTIVE STUDENT SYMPOSIUM, a program allowing students to meet artists and filmmakers in conjunction with Film Fest 919 at Silverspot Theater. Here students in the group converse with screenwriter Anthony McCarten (left) of The Two Popes, The Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody; Joe Letteri (middle) of Weta Digital (Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar), and director/screenwriter Rashaad Ernesto Green (right) of Premature.
Hats off to our summer interns who spent the summer preparing for this year’s Film Fest 919 (October 9-13 at the Silverspot). Left to right: Isaac Rosso Klakovich (Global Cinema Minor), Randi Emerman (Founder/CEO of Film Fest 919), Julia Glass (Biology/English Major), and Yuma Kobayashi (English Major with Film Studies Concentration)
Global Cinema Minor Chloe Arrojado presents her research paper on Tunisian cinema at the 2019 undergraduate Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference at Muhlenberg College.
UNC-Chapel Hill Students attend the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for two weeks of intensive movie watching and networking. Left to right: Agustin Noguera, Macy Jones, Ella Thompson, Molly Kusilka, Sidney Morris, Veronica Chandler, Sydney Taylor, Ella Thompson, Molly Kusilka, Madeline Rael.
Congratulations to Sidney Morris (Class of 2019, Global Cinema Minor) and Agustin Noguera (Class of 2019, Comparative Literature/Film), who participated in the Student Symposium at the 45th Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. They saw amazing films, participated in discussions with other students from around the world, and interacted with the likes of Werner Herzog and Alfonso Cuarón!