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Summer 2019

NU DOCS – The MFA in Documentary Media Thesis Screenings

Northwestern’s Block Cinema was packed for 3 nights of MFA in Documentary Media thesis screenings.  Each night featured 4 films with the filmmakers taking part in post-screening Q&As.  In years past, the annual thesis screenings have been a preview of films that played at some of the most important film festivals in the world.  We have no doubt that some of this years thesis films will move on to great acclaim and success.  Congats to the Class of 2019 on two phenomenal years and 12 great films. 

THE AREA, a documentary by Chicago’s Scrappers Film Group, screened at Block Cinema on May 16th.  Following the screening, Naeema Torres (Class of 2019) moderated the post-screening Q&A with filmmaker David Schalliol, protagonist/producer Deborah Payne, and producer Brian Ashby.


In April, filmmaker Yance Ford was celebrated as the 2019 Hoffman Scholar.  Following a masterclass for the MFA in Documentary Media students, Ford presented a screening of the Oscar nominated STRONG ISLAND to a packed Helmerich Auditorium. 

In April, the Class of 2020 curated a screening of the best of their 1st Year films made in their Documentary Techniques and Narrative Techniques courses.  In past years, some of the films created in these classes have went on to play major festivals and won awards.


Class of 2020

Congrats to Ian Bertorelli (Class of 2021) for his short doc FREDDY being selected for the Chicago Park District’s Chicago Onscreen summer film showcase! 


Class of 2019

Jennifer Boles (Class of 2019) short doc Hall of Fishes, an immersive archival film about the webs of power and violence behind the human desire to see, contain, and consume the ocean, had its Chicago premiere at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 5, a touring festival of Chicago-made short movies, featuring the films of Jennifer Boles (Class of 2019) and Sebastian Pinzon (Class of 2017)  premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.  NewCity Film talked about the series and how Northwestern has been a major contributor to some of the documentaries in the series.


In April, Access Community Music’s Sound of Silence Film Festival featured HALL OF FISHES, an archival film by Jennifer Boles (Class of 2019).



Cheers to Jung-Ah Kim (Class of 2019) as two of her films JUNG-AH’S VLOG and #BEAUTYSICKNESS, screened at the Indie Fanfilmfest on May 31st in Rock Island, IL..




Class of 2018

Congrats to Elodie Edjang (Class of 2018) on being named a 2019 NeXt Doc Fellow. The year long fellowship brings together some of “the most talented young documentary filmmakers in the country at the beginning stages of their careers.”


Congrats to Heqiuzi Wang (Class of 2018) and her thesis film ROUGHLY DELICATE on winning Best Documentary Short at the Kansas City FilmFest International.

Class of 2017
In June, STAY CLOSE continued a stellar festival run at Washington DC’s AFI Docs. The acclaimed short documentary was directed by Luther Clement (Class of 2017) and Shuhan Fan (Class of 2016) and produced by Nevo Shinaar (Class of 2017) and Ashley Brandon (Class of 2017).

 Class of 2016
On Sunday, June 16th, THE ORCHESTRA, a short horror film produced by Justin Reifert (Class of 2016) screened as part of their Cinepocalypse Genre Film Fest 2019

I CAN ONLY BE MARY LANE, a documentary directed by Jesseca Simmons (Class of 2016) and produced by Reifert continued a successful festival run at  Macon Film Festival, the University Film and Video Association Conference, the New Haven International Film Festival and screened at the Chicago History Museum.

Congrats to Brittany Shyne (Class of 2016) for being named a Sundance Film Festival Institute Documentary Fund Grantee. Her film SEEDS is one of 25 projects to receive the honor.

Faculty News

In June, Professor Debra Tolchinsky’s piece CONTAMINTED MEMORIES premiered as part of The New York Times Op-Docs series.

The short film is carved out of material from the in-process feature True Memories and Other Falsehoods, Tolchinsky’s feature-length documentary currently in development with Kartemquin Films.

WE BELIEVE IN DINOSAURS, a documentary co-directed by Professor Clayton Brown, continued its festival run at the AFI Docs Film Festival.  The film was recently reviewed on the Fog of Truth podcast. 

Congrats to assistant professor Danielle Beverly, whose new feature documentary Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition premiered at the San Francisco IndieFest.


Crafting An Echo, a documentary by Professor Marco Williams, screened at April’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC.