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Media, Film & Journalism Studies

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Featured Event

Spring 2019 Featured Events

This quarter MFJS played host to a series of special events and guest speakers. We were happy to see many of you there! But for those of you who weren't able to make it, see below for some updates on what we've been up to.

4/11: BlacKkKlansman Screening and Q&A with Screenwriter Kevin Willmott
Students listen to the Q&A at a screening of BlacKkKlansmanOn Thursday, April 11 we were proud to welcome one of the talented screenwriters for the Oscar-winning film BlacKkKlansman, Professor Kevin Willmott, for a series of masterclass sessions as well as a full screening of the film followed by a Q&A with Willmott and the audience. Willmott, who is a film professor at the University of Kansas, spoke in depth with students as well as alumni and other DU community members during his visit, providing insight into the career path that led him to an Oscar, his approach to screenplay writing, and the necessity of telling important, hidden stories.

The DU Clarion also interviewed Professor Willmott while he was on campus. Their story is available here: "Kevin Willmott and Bringing Awareness Through Film."

4/15-16: Planning the Denver Migrahack
Attendees discuss media solutions at the Migrahack planning event in 2019In mid-April DU and Denver community members were invited to join a number of departments on campus to provide their insights into the planning process for Denver's Migrahack, which will take place in late September 2019. A Migrahack is a "hackathon" designed to bring together people with expertise on immigration and people who are knowledgable about how communication systems and data science might be leveraged to address the information needs of those most affected by and making decisions related to immigration in the Denver Area.

We were excited to host Dr. Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante, organizer of the Arizona Migrahack, who participated in our planning sessions and led several talks about her work on the Arizona effort with students of journalism, sociology, and computer/data science in preparation for the main event this fall.

Find out more about the Colorado Migrahack online.

4/25: Understanding the Islamic State (ISIS): Media & Communication Perspectives
Dr. Nabil Echchaibi and Dr. Kareem El Damanhoury take questions at an ISIS eventDr. Nabil Echchaibi of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Dr. Kareem El Damanhoury of Georgia State University (soon to be University of Denver!) were invited to campus to discuss their research on ISIS to a group of students, faculty, and staff from across the University. Dr. El Damanhoury spoke first, on "Is it One Caliphate or More? Evaluating ISIS and Al-Qaeda's Mediated Statehood," followed by Dr. Echchaibi on "Violence and the Apocalypse of Hope in an Age of Hypermediated Flows." Following the two lectures, the floor was opened to discussion with the audience. The event video is now available here: Understanding the Islamic State (ISIS).

5/1: Morton L. Margolin Distinguished Lecture, featuring William M. Arkin
Bill Arkin receives Margolin award from members of the Margolin familyBeginning in 2015, the Morton L. Margolin Distinguished Lecture has been given each year in honor of renowned Colorado business journalist Morton Margolin. During his distinguished 35-year career as a journalist with the Rocky Mountain News and the Colorado Business Magazine that he co-founded, Margolin received many awards, including a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize. His series of news stories exposing controversial U.S. reclamation projects in the Riverton, Wyoming area in 1952 won him that nomination.

The Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies was happy to host this year's Morton L. Margolin Distinguished Lecturer, Bill Arkin, on Wednesday, May 1 for his discussion, "How the News Media -- and the Public -- Contribute to Perpetual War." In his lecture, Arkin drew attention to what he called the "National Security Establishment" in government and the media, which guards "against people who do not comport to the mainstream." These non-conformists become the continual news story recycled on every station at all times and are effectively "other-ized" by the National Security Establishment who is constantly trying to pull the country back to a centrist "vanilla center." Arkin asserted that actors on both extremes of the political spectrum fit into this anti-mainstream category and both are described as threats that must be monitored at all times, specifically calling out Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This constant attention on supposed threats from these non-conformists creates a sense of perpetual emergency, perpetual war against something: white supremacy, climate change, socialism, cyber attacks, etc. In this way the members of this National Security Establishment establish their own positions in power as the "emergency special managers" important for keeping the crisis at bay while also continuing to exhaust the public into wishing to return to this calmer, mainstream center. Arkin concluded his talk by encouraging students and future media professionals to continue to push against the National Security Establishment, to dismantle the aura of perpetual war and encourage "disturbance, variability, and difference:" all things that this National Security Establishment aims to erase.

A full video of the discussion is available here: 2019 Morton L. Margolin Distinguished Lecture.

Documenting the World: DU Alumni Reflect on Their Careers in Documentary Filmmaking
Alumni Katie Cook and Aiden McCarthyThe Documenting the World speaker series is a Marsico-funded project designed to highlight the careers of MFJS alumni and to build connections between alumni and students. Over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year MFJS has brought back several of our alumni who have gone on to careers in documentary filmmaking to speak with students about their experiences. Documentary film has provided many outlets and career opportunities for our alumni, and it is our pleasure to have been able to celebrate this profession over the course of the year. We hosted three sessions of the series this fall.

4/24: From Hollywood to Boston to the World: Alum Launches Global Film Collaborative
Alumnus Mike Silva (BA '03) called in via Zoom to speak to film students about his experiences as a filmmaker and business owner. After working in film and tv sets, music videos, and commercials post-graduation, Mike is now building his new company, Vessel, which is primarily focused on branded content in the vein of documentary filmmaking.


5/15: Entrepreneurs: DU Alumni Launch Filmmaking & Media Consulting Companies
Hidden Woods Media's co-founders Patrick Gillespie (BA '13) and David Steward and VP Legacies co-founder Jonny Havey (BA '13, MBA '14) came to campus to speak with students about their inspirations and the challenges and rewards they've experienced while starting their own filmmaking and media consulting companies here in Denver.

5/29: From DU Undergrad to American Film Institute Graduate Fellow: A Filmmaking Journey
After graduating from DU in 2015, Mario Fierro was accepted as an Editing Fellow at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Mario has gone on tour twice with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall and creates videos to be shared on social media. He will be speaking to students about what led him on this path and ultimately to the AFI.