Film Program Joins University

Film Program Joins University

Aspiring filmmakers will receive support for projects depicting social justice issues

By Kathleen Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College is now home to a program that helps aspiring student filmmakers produce films with themes of moral courage, human rights and social justice.

Documentaries International President Sy Rotter (right) discusses the Jacques Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Documentary Film at a March 13 reception in Devlin Hall, with Fine Arts Department Chairman Prof. John Michalczyk (left) and part-time faculty member Charles Meyer (Fine Arts).

The Jacques Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Documentary Film - named for a Swiss businessman who was instrumental in bringing individuals trapped behind German lines in World War II to safety - offers a film production mentoring service, including advice, consultation and workshops, for undergraduate or graduate students from any discipline.

First established at George Washington University in 1999, the program is funded through a $31,000 renewable grant from the Societe Generale de Surveillance in Geneva, Switzerland in collaboration with Documentaries International in Washington, DC.

Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer and other University administrators officially welcomed the Salmanowitz Program to BC at a March 13 reception in Devlin Hall. Students and faculty members heard a description of the program from Documentaries International President Sy Rotter and were shown portions of "Rescue in Scandinavia," Documentaries International's film on efforts to save Jews in Norway during World War II.

"I am very pleased that we have been invited to host this very important program," said Fine Arts Department Chairman Prof. John Michalczyk, who will head the Salmanowitz Program. "Our productions in the past have always addressed these soul-searching issues, so we see this as our continued commitment to social justice, but now with formal recognition."

Boston College faculty involved in the program include filmmakers Michalczyk and Prof. Pamela Berger (Fine Arts), photographer and part-time faculty member Charles Meyer (Fine Arts), immigration and asylum expert Adj. Assoc. Prof. Daniel Kanstroom (Law) and part-time faculty member Rev. Raymond Helmick, SJ (Theology), an expert in conflict resolution.

"We are delighted to have the Salmanowitz Program housed at Boston College," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joseph Quinn. "It acknowledges the excellent work our faculty has been doing with the series of documentaries on war and peace around the globe. Secondly, the focus of the program, moral courage, is consistent Boston College's goal of educating men and women for others."

Quinn added that the Salmanowitz Program furthers another University goal: the integration of research and teaching missions. "This program will bring undergraduates into the research world of some of most interesting and productive scholars," he added.

The Salmanowitz Program includes a funding database, listing some 500 potential benefactors who support films on moral courage. It also will provide a film archive, an extensive list of completed films and their distributors so that potential producers are aware of successful models and may develop projects that are distinct and unique.

New camera and editing equipment will be purchased through the Salmanowitz Program and made available to students in the program. In addition, the program offers students opportunities to assist faculty filmmakers with research and post-production work.

"We have two students as part of a crew going to Germany in May to film documentaries on refugees and on the White Rose resistance movement," said Michalczyk, whose documentaries have dealt with issues of social justice ranging from the Holocaust to the contemporary scenes of conflict in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

"When we return, there also will be opportunities for Salmanowitz Program participants to help us with research and editing. It will be a great exposure for students who can go on to work on their own productions."


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