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Fellows 2009-10

FSC-Radcliffe Fellows

Leonard Retel Helmrich

Kamal Aljafari

FSC-Harvard Fellows

Edgar Barroso / Juan de Dios Vázquez

Randy Bell

Bridget Hanna

Robb Moss / Peter Galison

Verena Paravel

Maxim Pozdorovkin

Jan Schütte

J.P. Sniadecki

Stephanie Spray

Lina Verchery

McMillan-Stewart Fellow

Abdellatif Kechiche

Robert Fulton Fellow

David MacDougall

Film Study Center–Radcliffe Fellow
Kamal Aljafari is a Benjamin White Whitney Scholar as well as a Film Study Center-Radcliffe Fellow whose upcoming project is titled A Cinematic Occupation. An independent artist from Israel, he works in film, video, sound and new media. Born in Palestine, he graduated from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne in 2003. His films include Visit Iraq and The Roof. His work has been shown internationaly at film festivals and art galeries. He is the recipient of the Visual Art Prize of the city of Cologne for the year 2004 and artist fellowship grants from Kunstfonds and Kunststiftung NRW.

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A collaboration between composer Edgar Barroso, poet Juan de Dios Vázquez, filmmaker Aryo Danusiri, and designer Yen-Ting Cho, Kapsis will be a 7 to 10 minute piece for flute, electro-acoustic music, and video art, which will be part of their Nahua operetta Zazanilli (which in Nahuatl means both "story" and "enigma".) It will portray the mesmerizing Nahua myth of a young girl who becomes a starfish. The goal is to represent the unrepresented, to provide though structured musical figuration an understanding of invisible forces and principles that regulated not only the myths, riddles and proverbs of ancient Aztecs but also the pulse of contemporary indigenous politics.

Edgar Barroso is a PhD Candidate in Music Composition at Harvard University. An interdisciplinary approach has become the core of his work. His education includes a Master in Digital Arts, a Postgraduate Diploma in Composition and Contemporary Technologies and a Bachelor in Music Composition. During 2006-2008 he received the Francis Boott Prize in Music Composition (USA), 1st Prize at the Jurgenson International Composition Competition for young composers (Russia), Best Audio Award from International Black&White Multimedia Festival (Portugal), won Grand Prize of the Harvard University Live Electronics International Composition Competition (USA), 3rd Prize at the Ensemblia 2007 International Composition Competition (Germany), and he has also been awarded by the State Institute of Culture (Mexico) with the “Artistic Trajectory in Music Composition Grant”. He is currently holding a CONACYT - Fundación México en Harvard Fellowship.

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Randy Bell's documentary films explore subjects as diverse as American popular music, mid-century European modernist architecture, and the AIDS orphan crisis in Kenya, have won awards from the Cleveland International Film Festival, the New England Film and Video Festival, and the Ivy Film Festival. They have been honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the African Studies Association, and Harvard University. They have screened on television, at film festivals, independent movie theaters, and universities internationally. Randy has received major grant support for filmmaking from NYSCA, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation, the Wellspring Foundation, the Pannonia Foundation, the Strauss Foundation, and the O'Reilly Foundation. He is a co-founder and artistic director for film and video at The Tank, a non-profit space for performing and visual arts in Manhattan. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 2000. His current documentary, The Mathare Project, began in 2001 and follows a group of orphans growing up in Nairobi, Kenya's Mathare slum. More information at

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Film Study Center–Radcliffe Fellow
FSC-Radcliffe fellow Leonard Retel Helmrich is a film director at Scarabeefilms (Netherlands) whose critically acclaimed documentaries about Indonesia have won him several international prizes. As the developer of single shot cinema (a theoretical perspective and practical technique involving long takes with a constantly moving camera) and the SteadyWing (a camera mount that enables greater stability and maneuverability while shooting), Retel Helmrich has taught workshops around the world. During his Radcliffe fellowship year, cosponsored by the Harvard Film Study Center, he will work on a documentary titled Position of the Stars, which reveals the effects of globalization, commercialization and the interpretation of Islam in Indonesia through the eyes of a 16-year-old girl.

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Bridget Hanna is filmmaker and doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard. Previous to entering graduate school, she taught video production and worked on various human rights and media projects such as The Milosevic Trial Archive and the Bhopal Media Project. Her current research and video work is in India, exploring a phenomenology of pollution and toxics related illness experience. Her short film This Much I Know (, about a young girl struggling to live, and celebrate, her life in a slum polluted by medical waste, is showing in film festivals. Her current project, The Colony of Lords looks at the daily life and experiences of the children and grandchildren of Bhopal gas disaster survivors, many of whom are subject to various sensory disabilities.

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The McMillan-Stewart Fellowship in Distinguished Filmmaking
Director, actor, and screenwriter Abdellatif Kechiche was born in Tunis, Tunisia. After his family emigrated to France, he grew up in Nice. He made his directorial debut in 2000 with La Faute à Voltaire (Blame it on Voltaire), aka Poetical Refugee, which he also wrote, which was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Best First Film. He also directed L'Esquive, which won a César Awards for Best Film and Best Director. He has presented recently his last film, La Graine et le Mulet, at the 64th Venice Film Festival, for which he was awarded the Special Jury Prize, the FIPRESCI Prize, and the Louis Delluc Prize. In 2008, he received the César Awards for Best French Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay for this film. Also in 2008, he received the Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens, an award for achievements in integration, together with Fatih Akin. He is currently in production of his latest film, Black Venus.

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Robert E. Fulton III Fellowship in Nonfiction Filmmaking
David MacDougall is a documentary filmmaker and writer on cinema. He was educated at Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles. His first feature-length film, To Live With Herds, filmed in Uganda, won the Grand Prix Venezia Genti at the Venice Film Festival in 1972. Soon after this, he and his wife Judith MacDougall produced the Turkana Conversations trilogy of films on semi-nomadic camel herders of northwestern Kenya. Of these, Lorang’s Way won the First Prize of Cinéma du Réel in Paris in 1979, and The Wedding Camels the Film Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1980. They co-directed a number of films on indigenous communities in Australia and, in 1991, a film on photographic practices in an Indian hill town, Photo Wallahs. In 1993 he made Tempus de Baristas, on goat herders in the mountains of Sardinia, winner of the 1995 Earthwatch Film Award.

In 1997 he began conducting a film study of the Doon School in northern India. This resulted in five films: Doon School Chronicles (2000), With Morning Hearts (2001), Karam in Jaipur (2001), The New Boys (2003), and The Age of Reason (2004). He then began filming at a progressive, co-educational boarding school in South India and in a shelter for homeless children in New Delhi. His experimental film SchoolScapes (2007) won the Basil Wright Film Prize at the 2007 RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, and his most recent film, Gandhi’s Children (2008), was nominated for Best Feature Documentary Film in the Asia Pacific Film Awards and awarded the Grand Prix at the 2009 Astra Film Festival.

MacDougall writes regularly on documentary and ethnographic cinema and is the author of Transcultural Cinema (Princeton University Press, 1998) and The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses (Princeton, 2006). He lives in Australia and is Adjunct Professor at the Research School of Humanities, Australian National University, Canberra. His current project at the Film Study Center is to edit material filmed jointly with Judith MacDougall comparing a group of boys and a group of girls of the same age at the Rishi Valley School in South India.

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Peter Galison and Robb Moss together made Secrecy which was released at Sundance in 2008. Their current project, Wastelands, is about the legacy of Cold War nuclear weapons--a vast swath of territory too contaminated by radio-isotopes for humans to use the land for a period of tens of thousands of years. These "national sacrifice zones," as one Department of Energy official called them, have precipitated an extraordinary set of judicial, scientific, anthropological, and imaginary introspection about what it means for humans to have removed themselves from these lands essentially forever.

Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; won a 1998 Pfizer Award (for Image and Logic) as the best book that year in the History of Science; and in 1999 received the Max Planck and Humboldt Stiftung Prize. His books include How Experiments End (1987), Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps (2003), and most recently Objectivity (with L. Daston, 2007). He has worked extensively with de-classified material in his studies of physics in the Cold War. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, "Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma" (44 minutes, with Pamela Hogan) has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses and seminars in the United States and abroad.

Robb Moss's film, The Same River Twice, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit award, and played theatrically in more than eighty cities across North America. Other films have shown at the Telluride Film Festival, screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and at numerous venues around the world, including in Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Sydney, Ankara, and Rio de Janeiro. As a cinematographer he has shot films in Ethiopia, Hungary, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Turkey on such subjects as famine, genocide and the large-scale structure of the universe many of these pieces were shown on Public Television. He was on the 2004 documentary jury at the Sundance Film Festival and has thrice served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute documentary labs. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past twenty years.

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Véréna Paravel taught ethnography in France, where she received her PhD. In 2009 with the support of the Sensory Ethnography Lab, she produced an experimental video, 7 Queens, that explores evanescent forms of intimacy and uses the aimless stroll as a form of (anti)-ethnographic interaction and expression. She is also working on a Skype Video Series, which examines and combines media, relationship and space, and on an ethnographic film about the “intertidal zone”. Her current project with the Film Study Center, Foreign Parts, (with J.P Sniadecki) is a feature-length digital video documenting, over the course of four seasons, the changing daily life of a New York junkyard as the threat of demolition looms.

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Maxim Pozdorovkin is a filmmaker and doctoral candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. His first film Capital (in collaboration with Joe Bender) is a modern day city symphony that tells the story of Astana, Kazakhstan’s new capital, during its ten-year anniversary. Other recent projects include Soviet Americanism (in collaboration with Ana Olenina), a 30-minute audio-visual essay to supplement the DVD of Miss Mend, a 1926 Soviet adventure serial to be released by Flicker Alley. Maxim’s current project (also with Bender) is AK-47, a feature length documentary about the world’s most popular gun and its role in transforming the nature of modern day military engagement.

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Jan Schütte is a filmmaker and visiting professor at Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. His current project is Oysters and French Fries - How the Frenchman Jacques Pépin conquered America. Jacques Pépin is an icon in the USA, but virtually unknown in his homeland, France. This film aims to trace the various episodes in his life, whilst exploring the cultural differences on both sides of the Atlantic – in the kitchen as in all the other facets of life. It is a biographical journey that is also a voyage through the history of cooking.

Since 1994 Schütte has taught directing at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Schütte has won numerous national and international awards for his work. His work includes feature films like Bye, bye America, The Farewell and Fat World. His last feature film Love Comes Lately, whose completion was also supported by the Film Study Center, premiered at Toronto and Sundance and opened last summer in the US. His documentary work includes To Patagonia and A Trip into the Innermost of Vienna. Schütte was a member of the International Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, and head of the International Jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. He is a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin and of the European Film Academy.

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J.P. Sniadecki is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard who works in collaboration with the Sensory Ethnography Lab to produce experimental nonfiction video. With the support of the Asia Center, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and the Film Study Center, he produced Chaiqian (Demolition) (2008), a nonfiction film about migrant labor, urban space, and ephemeral relationships in the center of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in western China. His first film in China, Songhua (2007), depicts the intimate and complex relationship between Harbin city residents and their “mother river,” the Songhua. Both films have received awards at international film festivals. His current project with the Film Study Center, The Guo Family, focuses on how the imbrication of media forces, urban expansion, and global aspirations affects the lived-experience of a family of six in the Sichuanese countryside.

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Stephanie Spray is a filmmaker and doctoral candidate in social anthropology at Harvard University. She received her B.A. in the study of world religions at Smith College and a master’s degree at Harvard Divinity School. She has been engaged in various fieldwork-based projects in Nepal since 1999. In 2001 she was the recipient of a Fulbright-IIE grant, which she used to begin fieldwork with the Gaine, a caste of itinerant musicians. Two such musicians were the subjects of an observational digital video, Kale and Kale, produced in 2007 with the support of the Sensory Ethnography Lab and the South Asia Initiative at Harvard. Likewise, her last two video projects, Monsoon-Reflections and As Long as There’s Breath, are experimental documentaries depicting aspects of the lives of one such Gaine family. She is currently engaged in two new projects in Nepal: Remembering Sarasvati, an intimate video piece exploring the moral worlds and experiences of three Nepali sisters, and Blue Sky, White River, a sound project with the Gaine of Nepal.

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Lina Verchery is a Frank Knox Fellow and Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School with an academic focus on East Asian Buddhism. Most recently, she wrote and directed La Trappe/The Trap, a bilingual documentary short about Buddhist monks and Acadian lobster fishermen in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for the National Film Board of Canada, which won ‘Best French-Canadian Short Film’ at the Festival International du Cinéma Francophone en Acadie (FICFA) in 2008. Lina co-wrote and co-directed De Midi à Minuit, a documentary short about cab drivers in Montréal which won first prize in the Alliance Française’s Concours Senghor: a fully-financed trip to the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Lina also has over ten years of professional performance experience in film, television and theatre, working both in North America and Asia. Together with co-director Kyo Moon, her current FSC project is a theological exploration of God and religion through the eyes of the homeless congregants of Cambridge’s Outdoor Church.

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