Film and Animation alumni, faculty, and staff represented in screenings around the world

Still from “Light Needs,” Jesse McLean, 2023
Still from “Light Needs,” Jesse McLean, 2023

From current graduate students to esteemed alumni and faculty members, the Peck School of the Arts Department of Film, Video, Animation & New Genres is well represented on the international film festival circuit this Fall. We’re excited to showcase the achievements of some of our very own who are currently screening their works across the globe.

Open City Documentary Festival (London, England) 

The Open City Documentary Festival is renowned for its celebration of non-fiction cinema. This year, we are proud to have not one but two representatives from the Peck School community showcase their work. Luciana Decker, a current graduate student, and Sally Lawton (MFA 2022), an alum and current instructor, presented their films.  

Crossroads 2023 Film Festival (San Francisco, CA) 

The Crossroads Film Festival, hosted by San Francisco Cinematheque, is a platform for experimental and avant-garde cinema. This year, it featured the works of Peck School graduate students Sam Drake and Sarah Ballard, as well as accomplished alumni Sofia Theodore-Pierce (MFA 2021) and Brent Coughenor (MFA 2007). Their films promise to challenge conventions and redefine the boundaries of filmmaking.  

Chicago Underground Film Festival (Chicago, Illinois) 

The Chicago Underground Film Festival has a rich history of celebrating unconventional and boundary-pushing cinema. It is also the longest-running underground film festival in the world, celebrating its 30th festival back in September. This year, the distinguished festival included films from faculty member Jesse Malmed and alumni Sara Sowell (MFA 2022) and Josh Weissbach (MFA 2013). 

BFI London Film Festival (London, England) 

The BFI London Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and we are delighted to announce that faculty member Mike Gibisser screened his work there. His presence at this renowned event is a testament to the caliber of talent within the Peck School of the Arts. In addition to screening at the BFI London Film Festival, Gibisser also screened his work at Imagine Science Film Festival. 

DOK Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany) 

DOK Leipzig is an international festival for documentaries and animated films, which stands as East Germany’s original independent film fest. In October, Assistant Professor Laura Harrison screened her film “Limits of Vision” at DOK Leipzig in a segment called Beyond Animation. She will also screen at the Amiens International Film Festival in Amiens, France, this month. 

Imagine Science Film Festival (New York City, New York) 

The Imagine Science Film Festival showcases experimental sci-art with a desire to increase dialogues between scientists and filmmakers. Associate Professor Jesse McLean (Department Chair) screened her latest film “Light Needs” at the New York festival last month. She will also be screening in Germany at Kassel Dokfest, a Berlin-based documentary festival exploring short and feature-length experimental pieces. McLean also has work in v01ces: The (Human) Voice in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, an exhibition currently showing at Galerie Nord in Berlin. 

Light Matter Film Festival (Alfred, New York) 

Described as a mind-bending experience, Light Matter Film Festival showcased over 90 films from around the globe. With over 1,000 minutes of content screened, Light Matter celebrates avant-garde visual storytelling through cinema and media art. Several staff members and alumni were featured at this year’s event, including assistant professor Ben Balcom (MFA 2015), David Witzling (MFA 2009), Sofia Theodore-Pierce (MFA 2021), Saif Alsaegh (MFA 2019), current grad student and Princess Grace award recipient Sarah Ballard, Luciana Decker, Sam Taffelr, Sam Taffel (MFA 2023), and Stephanie Barber (MFA 1998). 

Media City Film Festival (Windsor, Ontario/Detroit, Michigan) 

Media City Film Festival is not only a highly esteemed event that showcases and supports avant-garde filmmaking, but also the only film festival in the world to operate on both sides of an international border, operating out of Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan. Current graduate student Sam Drake and alum and winner of a MacArthur Genius award Sky Hopinka (MFA 2016) screened films in the exceptionally unique event. 

Congratulations to all our students, faculty, and alumni who got to take their films around the globe during the Fall of 2023. For more information about the Department of Film, Video, Animation & New Genres and its programs, visit their webpage.

Screenings accurate at time of publication. This story will be updated as news screenings are announced.