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Fellows before 2004

Nina Davenport

Jane Gray

Hilary Harris

Anouck Iyer

Jan Lenica

Irene Lusztig

John Marshall

Eric Martin

Ross McElwee

Susan Meiselas

Allen Moore

Robb Moss

Akos Oster

Wen-jie Qin

Natasha Lance Rogoff

Alex Webb

McMillan-Stewart Fellows

Souleymane Cissé

Med Hondo

Gaston Kaboré

Idrissa Ouedraogo

Ousmane Sembene

Abderrahmane Sissako

One of Africa's leading directors, Souleymanne Cissé has crafted a body of films that combine visual elegance with Marxist ideology and allegorical storytelling. Born in 1940, Cissé began his film career as a projectionist and photographer in Mali. After studying cinema in the Soviet Union for seven years, he returned to Mali, where he cut his teeth making newsreels and documentaries. His first fiction film, Cinq jours d'une vie (Five Days in a Life, 1972), launched his career and gained critical attention for the burgeoning African film movement. Three years later, Cissé directed the first feature film in his native language of Bambara, The Girl, only to have the film banned by authorities. His masterpiece, hailed by Film Comment as "the best African film ever made," would come a decade and a half later with Yeelen (Brightness, 1987). Drawing on traditional indigenous lifestyles and Malian folklore, Cissé attempts to explore conflicts in Mali society, particularly those that emerge between the desire for change and the need to preserve tradition. Cissé was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 2001.

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Nina Davenport grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and received a B.A. in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College in 1990. Her senior thesis, Slain in the Spirit, a portfolio of photographs about faith healing, received the distinction of summa cum laude and The Boston Globe's J. Edward Fitzgerald Award for Photojournalism. Upon graduating from Harvard, Davenport traveled in India. She shot Hello Photo, her first film, with a silent movie camera, applying her still photographer's vision to filmmaking, as she documented her journey through the sub-continent. Hello Photo premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 1996 and has played at many other festivals throughout the world, including Seattle, Chicago, Sydney, St. Petersburg, Créteil and Montreal. It garnered numerous awards, including Best Documentary from Melbourne, Australia, Best Black & White Cinematography from Cork, Ireland, Outstanding Independent Film from the New England Film & Video Festival, and the Kodak Award from the New York Expo. It was also one of six films chosen for Southern Circuit, a tour of films throughout the southern United States. In 1996, Davenport received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to go to Mexico where she filmed Los Pericos (The Parrots), a documentary about a pair of blind street musicians. Davenport's first feature, Always a Bridesmaid, a quirky personal documentary about her fear of spinsterhood, aired on Cinemax Reel Life and was theatrically released in 2001.

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Jane Gray fell into filmmaking accidentally. A psychology concentrator at Harvard, she took a video class on the side and discovered that she enjoyed filming people as much as studying them. She has been in film ever since. Her film credits include assistant editor on Richard P. Rogers' A Midwife's Tale (broadcast on PBS's American Experience, 1996), and an editing role on Errol Morris' Mr. Death, The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999), and director/ producer of Playing House (2003), her feature-length non-fiction video completed while a fellow of the Film Study Center. Playing House offers an intimate look at adolescent girlhood and the rarefied world of boarding school, chronicling the lives of five girls during their first year away from home.

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Over the years the work of Oscar-winning filmmaker Hilary Harris moved steadily from abstraction to social commentary. "Why make films at all?" is the question he poses to himself, and answers by "to give a richer vision of surrounding reality. My aim is to lift people out of their preconceptions." Using non-linear film structures, he would present abstract forms and then reveal them to be part of familiar reality. His award-winning films include Longhorns (1951), Organism (1975) and The Nuer (1971), produced with George Breidenbach while an associate of the Film Study Center.

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Son of a Senegalese father and a Mauritanian mother, Abid Mohammed Medoun Hondo was born in 1936 in Ain Ouled Beri Mathar, in the Atar region of Mauritania. As a young man, Med Hondo traveled as an immigrant worker to France, where eventually he developed an interest in theater and formed his own performing group, Shango, named after the Yoruba god of thunder. At the same time, he began to learn about the cinema and in 1966 made his first short film, Ballade aux sources, which tells of an African who returns, disillusioned, to his native land after working and living in dreadful conditions in France. Four years later, drawing on the same wealth of experience and emotion, Med Hondo directed his now renowned debut feature, Soleil O (1970). Praised at the Cannes Film Festival both for its thematic content and the originality of its formal presentation, Soleil O takes its title from a West African lament about people transported from Africa to be sold as slaves in the Caribbean. Symbolically linking their fates to those of contemporary black workers in France, the film is a succession of forceful tableaux describing the illusions and miseries of African migrant workers. From West Indies (1979), a vast musical fresco covering nearly four-hundred years in the history of the French West Indians, from their enslavement to their present-day displacement in France, to Sarraounia (1986), the valiant story of a West African queen who opposed French colonial troops at the end of the nineteenth century, Med Hondo has offered up to the viewer impassioned examinations of colonial history and its consequences. He was was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 2000.

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Anouck Iyer began her filmmaking career at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the California Institute of the Arts where she specialized in experimental film and animation. Her films are process-oriented hybrids of many different techniques and technologies. They have garnered awards and recognition both nationally and internationally at film festivals and gallery shows. Her first film, Cloth & Bone, was shown in over 25 festivals worldwide and won a Director's Choice award at the Black Maria Film Festival and a silver award from the Humbolt International Film Festival. During her time as a fellow of the Film Study Center, she completed her third short film, Hike Hike Hike, a four-minute live action-animation hybrid film that is, in her words, "a simple meditation on the rhythms and cycles of a dog sled journey, focused on the impressionistic view of the sensations that surround the journey: the small gestures, the sounds of the sled on the snow, the dogs working and pulling, the vision of the dogs and the landscape merging, moving as one. I wanted it to be an exploration of freedom in motion."

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Born in Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) and raised in the capital city of Ouagadougou, Kaboré maintained a lifelong interest in his family's rural heritage while pursuing studies that eventually led him to the Sorbonne in Paris. There he divided his time between pursuit of an advanced degree in history and his burgeoning curiosity about the cinema, fed in part by his interest in the representation of Africa abroad and by an encounter with the work of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene (the Film Study Center's McMillan-Stewart Fellow in 2001). Kaboré returned to Burkina Faso in 1976 after completing film school in France and was named director of the Centre national du cinéma. He also became a teacher at the Institut africain d'études cinématographiques, where his screenwriting and filmmaking courses were augmented by his own early productions. His first feature, Wend Kuuni (1982), was the first full-length film to be made in Burkina Faso, and it launched a career that would by turns mix extraordinary artistic achievement-rewarded by major awards at international festivals and a French César-with significant service to the field, especially as president of the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers. Kaboré's films are most often noted for his reclamation of the poetry and clarity of traditional African storytelling and for his singularly lyrical cinematic language. Yet the director has long insisted that his films-like those of other leading African directors-represent a "cinema of urgency," engaged by the attempt to "profoundly explain today's reality." Gaston Kaboré was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 2002-3.

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Polish painter, lithographer, poster designer, and absurdist film animator, Jan Lenica's films include Monsieur Tête (1959), Labirynt (1963), Adam 2 (1968), and the abstract Landscape (1974), produced while a fellow of the Film Study Center. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Pompidou Center in Paris in the early 1980s. He was working on a feature-length animated film in collaboration with his brother-in-law, the writer Tadeusz Konwicki, at the Miniatura studios in Poland when he died in 2001.

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Born in 1974 in England, Irene Lusztig graduated from Harvard College with highest honors in filmmaking and Chinese studies in 1997. She has also lived in China and studied cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy. In 1997, while a fellow of the Film Study Center, she lived in Bucharest, learned Romanian, and shot the award-winning Reconstruction. Her previous work includes For Beijung with Love and Squalor (1997) a documentary about contemporary Beijing's underground youth culture, and Crema Roz (1996), a 16mm documentary short about a quirky lifelong friendship between two Romanian women.

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Pioneering ethnographic filmmaker and early associate of the Film Study Center, John Marshall's films about the San peoples of South Africa, and their transformation from independent hunter-gatherers to a dispossessed and dependent underclass, span a fifty-year period, from his classic 1957 narrative, The Hunters, to N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman (1980), on which Ross McElwee collaborated, and the monumental five-part six-hour A Kalahari Diary (2003).

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Eric Martin is a designer of and consultant for interactive media and interface design, having worked at MIT's Lincoln Labs (1969-71), at Xerox PARC on the Macintosh's precursor, the Dynabook (1974-5), and Apple Computer's Human Interface and Advanced Technology Groups (1989-93). He has also taught studio courses in new media at Harvard (1964-75) and at CalArts (1976-1995), where he was Dean of the School of Art & Design (1979-83). He received his B.A. (1958) and Masters in Architecture (1961) from Harvard, where he was also a member of the Society of Fellows (1962-65), and a fellow of the Film Study Center, when he created the film, Flatland.

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"In 1975, as a graduate student at MIT's Film Section, I began filming 'chapters' from my own life and the lives of people close to me. Those chapters coalesced into two films, Charleen, about my wise and flamboyant high school teacher, and Backyard, about my relationship to my surgeon father and my medical school-bound brother. Backyard reveals my father's pride in my brother's choice of careers, as well as his somewhat puzzled concern about my choice - making documentary 'home movies.' He would say to me 'Why don't you try to make nature films?'

Instead, I went on to make Sherman's March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, an absurd title, but one which aptly summed up the major themes of the film. In it, I retraced General Sherman's destructive Civil War route, interweaving this journey with portraits of seven southern women I met along the way. Sherman's March achieved wide acclaim, and led to a sequel, Time Indefinite, in which I document my somewhat awkward shift into adulthood, getting married (finally), and then having to confront the sudden death of my father. At the end of the film, I become a father myself. In Something to do with the Wall, my wife and I reflect upon growing up in the shadow of the Cold War as we film life along the Berlin Wall. Six O'Clock News is my film about local television news and the fears a father can have about raising a child in a society such as the one we see reflected in the six o'clock news. Bright Leaves takes as its terrain the tobacco country of the American South, and my family's implication in it.

Each of these films explores new territory for me, but in almost all of them, members of my immediate and extended family reappear over a span of decades. This fact adds, I believe, an additional dimension to my work, providing a record of both how much and how little my family has changed over time," - Ross McElwee.

McElwee grew up in North Carolina. He graduated from Brown University and later from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a MS in filmmaking in a program headed by documentarian Richard Leacock. His career began in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina where he was a studio cameraman for local evening news, housewife helper shows, and "gospel hour" programs broadcast by the local television station. Later, he worked freelance shooting films for documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and then John Marshall, in Namibia. McElwee started producing and directing documentaries in 1976. His body of work, much of it produced while a fellow of the Film Study Center, includes many feature-length documentaries as well as several shorter films, most shot in his homeland of the South. His work has played nationally in art house theaters and has been broadcast on Cinemax and PBS. He has experimented with a personal autobiographical approach to non-fiction filmmaking, filming frequently as a one-person film crew and weaving into the final film a highly subjective narration along with on-camera experiences by the filmmaker. McElwee has been awarded fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Susan Meiselas received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. in visual education from Harvard University. An award-winning photographer and filmmaker, she joined Magnum Photos in 1976. She is the author of various books, including Carnival Strippers and Nicaragua, and editor of numerous anthologies, including Learn to See, El Salvador: The Work of 30 Photographers, Chile from Within, Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History, and Encounters with the Dani. She has co-directed two films, Living at Risk and Pictures from a Revolution, with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti. One-woman shows include Hasselblad Center, Sweden; Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum Folkwang, Germany. Among her awards are the Robert Capa Gold Medal, Leica Award for Excellence, Maria Moors Cabot Prize, and the Hasselblad Foundation Prize. In 1992 she was made a MacArthur Fellow.

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After concentrating in Visual Arts, where he specialized in photography and documentary filmmaking, Allen Moore stayed at Harvard, initially as a teaching assistant and later as a fellow of the Film Study Center, where he completed The Shepherds of Berneray (1981), a documentary of a year in the life of a Gaelic-speaking island community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It won a CINE Golden Eagle, a Red Ribbon at the American Film Festival, and a Special Mention of the Jury at Cinéma du Réel. Soon afterwards, Moore received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Filmmaking. He has directed many films since, including A Shepherd's Homecoming (1996), a stylized documentary about the life of a Mexican migrant, working as a sheepherder in the Nevada desert, and his eventual return to his home in Mexico. Most recently, Moore has served as director of photography for several of Ken Burns ' historical films shown on PBS, including the nine-part series, The Civil War, the two-part series, Thomas Jefferson, and the two-part series, Lewis and Clark.

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Robb Moss is an award-winning non-fiction filmmaker whose work has been shown at the Telluride Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cinema du Reel, Paris. The Rudolf Arnheim Lecturer on Filmmaking at Harvard, he has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, traveled to Africa under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and received fellowships and production grants from the Artists Foundation (Massachusetts) and MassProductions. He has shot films in Ethiopia, Liberia, Greece, Mexico, Hungary, Japan, Turkey, Nicaragua, and the Gambia. Many of these films, on such subjects as famine, genocide, and the large-scale structure of the universe, have been broadcast internationally. His cinematography abroad became the basis for his own film, The Tourist. Other work includes Africa Revisited (the tension within an interracial group of Americans working in West Africa), and Riverdogs (a month-long trip down the Colorado River some twenty years ago). Riverdogs was the foundation for The Same River Twice, which Moss produced while a fellow at the Film Study Center.

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Ákös Öster is co-producer, with Robert Gardner, of the Pleasing God trilogy of films, Loving Krishna, Sons of Shiva, and Serpent Mother) and of Forest of Bliss. After teaching in the Anthropology department at Harvard, in 1983 he moved to the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies as a Senior Research Fellow. In 1988 he joined Wesleyan University where he is Professor of Anthropology and Film Studies. Öster's major publications include The Play of The Gods (1981), Culture and Power (1984), Kinship and Ritual in Bengal (with Lina Fruzzetti, 1984), Culture and Change Along the Blue Nile (with Lina Fruzzetti, 1990), and Vessels of Time (1993). He has also collaborated on various videos with Alfred Guzzetti, Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Arts at Harvard, including Seed and Earth (with Lina Fruzzetti, Alfred Guzzetti, and Ned Johnston, 1996) and Khalfan and Zanzibar (with Lina Fruzetti and Alfred Guzzetti, 2000).

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Idrissa Ouedraogo is one of Africa's most acclaimed directors. His unmannered style has been compared to those of Jean Renoir and Satyajit Ray. Born in 1954 in the village of Banfora in Upper Volta - now Burkina Faso - Ouedraogo studied film in Ouagadougou, Kiev, and Paris, where he graduated from l'IDHEC in 1985. He directed his first feature film, Yam Daabo (The Choice), in 1987 which brought him acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival. His second feature Yaaba (Grandmother, 1989) won the International Critics Award at Cannes and third feature Tilai (The Law, 1990) received the Special Jury Prize. His later works, including Samba Traoré (1992) and Afrique, mon Afrique, (1995) have also enjoyed critical success. Idrissa Ouedraogo was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 1998.

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Wen-jie Qin was born in 1968 in the city of Chengdu in southwest China and grew up there during the Cultural Revolution. From 1985 to 1989, Qin studied at China's most liberal academic institute, Beijing University, and majored in Chinese and Western philosophies. Shortly after the Tiananmen massacre took place in June 1989, Qin left Beijing for the United States. After studying and teaching at Kenyon College, Ohio for a year, Qin went to Harvard Divinity School to study world religions. She graduated in 1993 with a Master of Theological Studies and went on to pursue her doctorate at Harvard, in Chinese Religions and Filmmaking, which she completed in 2000 in the Study of Religion Program and the Film Study Center. While a student at Harvard and a fellow of the Film Study Center, Qin made five videos, The Sprouts of Capitalism in China (1996), about a Chinese entrepreneur and his family, Woman Being (1997), about women's attitudes towards beauty and sexuality in contemporary China, We Are Not Beggars (1997), portraying the life of children surviving by performing on the streets of urban China, To the Land of Bliss (2001) about the Pure Land Buddhist way of dying and living, and Full Circle (2002), about the repatriation of a totem pole by the Peabody Museum at Harvard University to Cape Fox Corporation, a Tlingit community in Southeast Alaska. Her films are distributed by Documentary Educational Resources, Watertown, MA.

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Natasha Lance Rogoff is a director and producer of documentary films and children's television. From 1993-1997 Rogoff served as Executive Producer of Sesame Street (Russia) for the Children's Television Workshop. For this she produced and directed 52 original half-hour programs of Russian Sesame Street which aired over three years in prime-time on Russia's largest television station. She also produced Plaza Sesamo, a Spanish-language series of 130 half-hour Sesame Street programs broadcast in Mexico and throughout Latin America. As a documentary director, Rogoff's award-winning film, Russia for Sale: The Rough Road to Capitalism, vividly portrays the lives of a steel worker, a police chief, and an entrepreneur against the backdrop of the Soviet Union's disintegration in 1991-93. Prior to its national airing on PBS, excerpts, introduced by the director, appeared on ABC's Nightline. Rogoff has also associate produced films for Frontline and NOVA, including a four-part PBS series with Hedrick Smith on Gorbachev's Russia. A recipient of a Rockefeller Scholarship, a Lehman Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant, Rogoff received her B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley, and M.A. in Soviet Foreign Policy from Columbia University's School of International and Public affairs. Rogoff attended Leningrad State University in the USSR in 1993. While a fellow of the Film Study Center, she was working on a book about her experience of producing Sesame Street in Russia.

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The foremost figure in the evolution of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene remains its most provocative and fiercely independent spirit. Born in 1923 in the former French colony of Senegal, Sembene established himself as one of Africa's leading novelists before turning to cinema as a means of reaching a wider audience. His work often centers on identity problems encountered by Africans caught between Africa and Europe, tradition and modernization. The concentrated realism of his early classics evolved into a rich, wide-ranging mixture of black comedy, political allegory, sophisticated satire, traditional African forms, and biting social criticism. In 1987, after a nearly ten-year hiatus from filmmaking, Sembene returned in peak form with Camp de Thiaroye (1987), a powerful tragedy of colonialism, and Guelwaar (1992), a trenchant comedy of contemporary Senegal. No filmmaker is a sharper critic of the internal problems of modern Africa nor a more passionate advocate of African autonomy. Ousmane Sembene was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 2001.

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Born in Mauritania, trained at the Moscow Film Institute, and working in France, Sissako has always put Africa at the center of his work, elaborating his narratives around the lights and the colors of his continent, even though the real subject of his films is exile. His famous 1993 work, October, is about being African in Russia. Sissako's perspective on his childhood, from bustling Paris: "I belong to a culture in which I learned at 15 that I was born on October 13. That is to say that dates for us don't have the same value and that the perception of time is different." His influences? "Aimé Césaire has been a support for me most of my life. He is the author that I read and reread. But another very important author to me was Frantz Fanon... Black Skin, White Masks is very close to [my] film, La vie sur terre (1998)." In Sabriya (1997), Sissako creates a fabulous drama about the impact of the modern world on traditional Arabic society. La vie sur terre (1998) is a gorgeously conceived poem contemplating life at the end of the millenium in both the First and Third Worlds, by a filmmaker with a foot planted in each. Abderrahmane Sissako was the McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking at the Film Study Center in 1999.

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Alex Webb was born in San Francisco, California in 1952. He became interested in photography during his high school years. He majored in history and literature at Harvard University and studied photography at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Webb attended the Apeiron Workshops in 1972; he began working as a professional photojournalist in 1974. His photographs began to appear in such publications as the New York Times Magazine, Life, Geo, and eventually in Stern and National Geographic. Webb joined Magnum Photos as an associate member in 1976, becoming a full member in 1979. During the mid-1970's, Webb conducted reportages in the US south, traveling extensively, documenting small town life in black-and-white. He also began working in the Caribbean and Mexico. In 1979, Webb began a body of color work that he continues to pursue today. Since then he has traveled throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. His books of photographs include Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds (1986), Under A Grudging Sun (1989), From the Sunshine State (1996), Amazon: From the Floodplains to the Clouds (1997), and the technology-mediated artist's book, Dislocations (1999), which he produced while a fellow at the Film Study Center. Webb received a New York Foundation of the Arts Grant in 1986, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1990, a Hasselblad Foundation Grant in 1998, and won the Leopold Godowsky Color Photography Award in 1988 and the Leica Medal of Excellence in 2000. He has exhibited widely both in the United States and Europe. Among museums that have exhibited his work are the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the International Center of Photography, the High Museum of Art, the Southeast Museum of Photography, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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