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College of Arts and Sciences

Daniel Zawodny '14

boston college fine arts department

Daniel Zawodney '14
Photograph by Robin Canfield, Actuality Media

Documentary films can be and do so many things – they can inform, inspire, move people to tears, and speak out for the voiceless. This is what I wanted to be – the person who could discover more about the world and share its beauty with everyone. I came into BC as a freshmen declared a Film Studies major, eager to discover a way to combine my passion for the camera with my budding passions for discovery, the world, and social justice.

In my junior year, my growing relationships with film professors Michalcyzk, Chopra, and Hoover, as well as many other film students, helped me ground and actualize these passions. Their courses in cinematography, documentary production, and general filmmaking gave me the tools of the trade and introduced me to the beautiful practice of film as collaboration. I was among an incredible group of dedicated, passionate fellow students, and our professors instilled a sense of community within us from the beginning.

In an effort to develop my skills in documentary storytelling further, I traveled last summer to San Juan, Guatemala, a small town on the shores of Lake Atitlan, with Actuality Media, an organization that provides film students with opportunities to connect with social change organizations in marginalized communities to create short documentary films and study the art of documentary. It was here that I was introduced to the idea of documentary as "the creative treatment of actuality." I learned that documentary is not the sole creation of the filmmaker, but requires humility; it is about striving to be in solidarity with your subject, to serve as a mediator through which the subject shares him or herself with the world.

The solid foundation formed by our Film Studies department and the sense of discovery and humility that enriched me in Guatemala have pushed me to continue growing as a filmmaker. The BC Film Studies Department has instilled within me a drive to use the camera as a tool of discovery that can help bring the world together.