Newsletter 2015

2015 Film Studies Program Annual Update

By Georg Koszulinski

The 2014-15 Academic Year marked the fifth year of the Film Studies program. After a large group of graduates last spring (25), fall of 2014 started with 73 majors and 11 minors. Film Studies offered 25 courses this year including Dr. Edwin Weihe's Film and Modernism in Paris course, which ran this summer in Paris. In addition to the regular offerings such as Art of Film, History of Film, Narrative Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking I, Producing, and Screenwriting, there were a great variety of electives this year that generated a lot of student interest including Westerns, Greater Middle East Cinemas, Malick, Trauma Across Media, Hitchcock, Scifi, International Queer Cinema, Conceptions of the Primitive, Hollywood Dream Factory, Godard, and History of TV.

Eight graduating seniors collaborated on three independently produced student thesis films: James Cashman's Love You Baby, T.J. Montoya's Portia Lynn: Another Kind of Love Story, and Brittany Hammer's Homewrecker. Our students also interned for the Seattle International Film Festival, Seattle Children's Theatre, Workhouse Creative, Northwest Film Forum, the Media Production Team in Seattle University's Admissions office, and with the head videographer for Marketing and Communications at Seattle University. Student films were screened at or selected for the Local Sightings Film Festival, Seattle True Independent Film Festival, the Seattle University Film Festival (SUFF), Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival, the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), the Student Art Festival in Florida, and the CinéWomen magazine and online festival. Daniel Schiff and Jose Chalit's short film, The Surgeon General, won first place at SUFF. Daniel also directed and edited the short film, Out of Print, which won the NFFTY Audience Award. CinéWomen magazine interviewed Cherilyn Williams, one of our film students, regarding Insurration, a short film she wrote and co-directed.

The Film Studies program hosted a number of speaking events and workshops led by world-class filmmakers, producers, and directors. This winter, Sebastian Junger, the Oscar-nominated director of Restrepo and author of The Perfect Storm, led a workshop and discussion on documentary filmmaking. The American experimental filmmaker Ben Russell presented a selection of his works and gave a talk entitled, The Relativity of Time. Throughout the academic year, a host of other notable filmmakers visited our film classes, presented their works and led discussions on their filmmaking craft.

The Film Studies faculty also accomplished a lot this year. It was tenure track faculty member Georg Koszulinski's second year at Seattle University. This spring, he completed post-production on his feature-length documentary, Loa: Encounters with the Sacred Spirits of Haiti. He also served as a juror at the 10th Annual Florida Experimental Film Festival, and entries from his film essay series, Frontier Journals, continue to be programmed at film festivals internationally. His feature documentary focusing on migrant farmworker communities, Immokalee U.S.A., will be released through Fandor this fall. Adjunct faculty member Richie Meyer produced a feature film Amore Tra La Rovine (Love Among the Ruins), which had its North American premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival in June and its European premiere in May at the Verdono festival in Italy. Dan Thornton, who teaches screenwriting and filmmaking, was nominated for a 2014 Emmy Award for his feature film Welcome to Doe Bay.

Dr. Edwin Weihe, who started the Film Studies program and served as director for the first five years, stepped down in June. This year, Dr. Susan Meyers and Dr. Charles Tung will be co-directing the Film Studies program and a national search will begin for another tenured Film faculty member who will direct the program.

Course offerings:  History of Film, Art of Film, Westerns, Greater Middle East Cinemas, Women in Cinema, Malick, Documentary, Italian Cinema, Trauma Across Media, Hitchcock, Scifi, International Queer Cinema, Film Careers Workshop, Conceptions of the Primitive, Hollywood Dream Factory, Godard, History of TV, Film & Modernism in Paris, Filmmaking I & II, Documentary Filmmaking, Narrative Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Producing, and Independent Study Thesis Projects. 

Faculty:  Catherine Clepper, Erin Schlumpf, Justine Barda, Georg Koszulinski, Jason Wirth, Robert Cumbow, Ben Stork, Lyall Bush, Dan Thornton, Evan Briggs, John Comerford, Sean McDowell, Edwin Weihe. 

Brynne McKeen worked as a Production Assistant on the feature film Captain Fantastic last summer. She has spent the academic year producing, designing, and co-directing the student thesis film, Love You Baby, showing this June, as well as interning at Seattle Children's Theatre in their Costume Department for their 2014-15 season. Brynne is looking forward to starting her professional career in costume and producing here in Seattle after graduating this spring, starting with the costume design for ArtsWest's production of American Idiot. 

Alex Mullen began interning at local production company Workhouse Creative, served as the editor for SU thesis film Love You Baby, and published an essay on Internet piracy in the most recent edition of Argument Writing. Additionally, Alex developed and co-directed a short documentary about the phenomena of selfies and screened his short Green Energy at SUFF. Alex hopes to remain in Seattle, continuing to intern and develop his filmmaking skills.  

James Cashman traveled abroad this past fall to Prague, Czech Republic, to study film production at FAMU International School of Film and TV, the number one ranked film school in Central Europe. His work there was focused on directing and cinematography, resulting in the production of a short film shot on super 16mm film stock. After returning from his trip, James came back to SU to finish his senior year by co-producing Seattle University’s first senior thesis film Love You Baby, a short about a criminal caregiver who robs corner stores to pay for his grandmother’s medical bills, of which James was the writer and director. James worked with Brynne McKeen and Morgan Rodriguez – two other Film Studies seniors – to bring the project to life. With the completion of Love You Baby and graduation around the corner, James is looking forward to staying local in Seattle, working in advertising and commercial production while continuing to work as a freelance filmmaker.  

Cory Rodriguez returned to the Seattle International Film Festival this year as a paid Programming Assistant after interning last year in the same Department. He has done work for both the festival in the Spring and for the year-round events that the organization puts on such as One Reel during Bumbershoot. Cory just got a job as the Programs Assistant at Three Dollar Bill Cinema. 

Jose Chalit currently works on the Media Production Team as part of Seattle University’s Admissions office. Recently, his co-directed film The Surgeon General won first place at SUFF and was an official selection at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival. In recent developments is an independent short made with a group of immigrant farmworkers in Bellingham (Familias Unidas por la Justicia) who are organizing to have their demands met of higher wages and better working conditions. In addition to this film operating as an organizing tool for FUJ, this project will count for the completion of FILM 3910-03, and will be continued in the fall of 2015 in Georg Koszulinski’s Documentary Filmmaking class.    

Daniel Schiff made a short film (in collaboration with Jose Chalit) called The Surgeon General, which won 1st place at the Seattle University Film Festival (SUFF) and went on to be selected for Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival (STIFF). Daniel was the director and editor for a short film called Out of Print which was an official selection for the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, winning the (NFFTY) Audience Award, and also was selected for the Student Art Festival in Florida. Daniel is currently working in Seattle University's Admissions as their media producer. He also is interning for Shoreline Sports Foundation making promotional videos and images. Daniel is heading to Southern California for a 3 month film production internship.

TJ Montoya interned for Keith Walberg, the head videographer for Marketing and Communications at Seattle University. Over the summer, he created a YouTube video that received over 40,000 views and was published in The Huffington Post, The Advocate, and GLAAD’s blog. He also wrote the screenplay for an LGBTQ film titled: Portia Lynn: Another Kind of Love Story and began production on the film. TJ is excited to see where it goes.

Grace Stetson interned at Northwest Film Forum as the Membership Coordinator, where she assisted in the organization's membership-donor overhaul (which included working with Capitol Hill businesses to provide joint benefits to patrons) and in the organization's 20th anniversary Fundraising Gala in May. Following graduation this June, Grace will move back to the Bay Area. 

Cherilyn Williams wrote and directed two short films, Morphean and InsurrationInsurration was selected for the Student Art Festival in Florida and for CinéWomen magazine and online festival. CinéWomen magazine will publish a 7-page interview regarding Insurration and Cherilyn’s film work as a whole. In addition to this, Cherilyn will also be working with Twisted Twins Productions in the near future on some of their upcoming projects.

Brian Cunningham is currently working on the trailer for the Seattle Latino Film Festival and interning on the Local Sightings Film Festival at NWFF. He’s also working on a local feature right now called The Boy Who Lived Before (AC, gaffer) and work as a PA from time to time. 

Connor Grosenick is now working full time at the Apple Store, still a PA on the local sketch comedy show "The [206]," and has recently worked as a PA on a shoot for B47 Studios here in Seattle.

Richie Meyer produced a feature film Amore Tra La Rovine (Love Among the Ruins) in Ferrara, Italy with his wife Susan and Italian director Massimo Ali Mohammad.  The film has its North American premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival in June and its European premiere in May at the Verdono festival in Italy.  It is scheduled for several film festivals in the coming months.

Georg Koszulinski presented new work this academic year at over a dozen international film festivals, independent theaters, and art spaces, including Dallas Videofest 27, Mexico City’s Jornadas de Reapropiación, and the Independent Days Film Festival held in Karlsruhe, Germany. This winter he served as a juror at the 10th Annual Florida Experimental Film Festival where he presented a juror’s program of recent work. In the spring Koszulinski presented Hallucinatory Maps, a selection of original work produced from 2007-2015, at the ExCinema film series in Seattle, WA. He recently completed post-production on his feature-length documentary focusing on Vodou in rural Haiti (Loa, forthcoming).

Bob Cumbow will conduct a one-week presentation on the history and art of film during June for the Women’s University Club’s annual “Window on History” program. Later in the summer he’ll publish online articles on David Lynch’s Wild At Heart and William Peter Blatty’s Exorcist III as part of Slant magazine’s “Summer of ’90” series of reassessments of the summer films of 25 years ago. He’ll also be spending the summer updating his course on Vampire Films for Fall and preparing a new course for Winter Quarter, Taboo—examining films that offend (with or without trying to). And he hopes to get in some work on articles-in-progress on David Lynch and Film Scores for Westerns.

Robert Horton contributed articles on Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Alexandre Desplat to Film Comment magazine; did a reading at Elliott Bay Book Co. for his book Frankenstein (Columbia University Press); and in December ended a ten-year run as the curator of the "Magic Lantern" program of monthly film talks at the Frye Art Museum. In January he led a six-hour "Cinema Dissection" of Bride of Frankenstein at SIFF, and in May he lectured on "Time as a Character in Contemporary Films" at the Architectural Association in London. Since February he has been on sabbatical in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Catherine Clepper contributed "Symphonies Olfactives; Les experiences de cinema odorant aux Etats-Unis a l'ere du parlant" to the anthology Techniques et technologies du cinéma, eds. André Gaudreault and Martin Lefebvre; trans. Anne Bienjonetti (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2015).  She also led a workshop at the annual SCMS meeting in Montreal on the subject "Teaching Film History in the Digital Age."

Dan Thornton was nominated for a 2014 Emmy Award for his feature film “Welcome to Doe Bay" ( His short documentary “LFO’s and the Modern Day Debtor’s Prison was chosen as a featured short at the 2014 Social Justice Film Festival ( He coproduced the feature–comedy “Worst Laid Plans which will be released in 2015 ( Currently Dan is working on a documentary in the U.K. about acclaimed visually impaired landscape painter Keith Salmon ( Production on that film wraps in September 2015.

Lyall Bush last fall completed production of a food show pilot titled “What She’s Having.” This spring he delivered a talk on French cinema to audiences at the annual French festival. In February and March he hosted a five-week series on Michelangelo Antonioni in conjunction with Seattle University, the University of Washington and Seattle Art Museum. In May, just before announcing that he would step down as executive director of Northwest Film Forum in September, he hosted the Film Forum’s 20th anniversary gala, which was its most successful ever.

Justine Barda taught Cinema of the Middle East and North Africa, Italian Neorealism, and the Film Careers Workshop. She also worked as a programmer for Sundance and the Seattle International Film Festival, and traveled to festivals in Berlin, Toronto, and Tehran.  She spoke on panels on subjects as varied as Antonioni's La Notte, festival programming criteria, and the future of film distribution.  She hopes to see everyone at SIFF before it closes on June 7!

Benedict Stork's essay entitled  "A Shared Pain: Archival footage and history as immanent cause" is forthcoming in the spring issue of Synoptique: An Online Journal of Film and Moving Image Studies. He was also a contributor to the website In Media Res for their theme week "Cellphone Witness" (his curator's statement and video choice can be found here:  in the s