The UCSB Film and Media Studies Department is proud to recognize UCSB Alum Justin Tipping’s directorial debut, Kicks. While at AFI, Tipping directed Nani, a 2012 short film shown at many film festivals worldwide, receiving multiple awards. From the success of his short film, he went on to direct the upcoming feature-length film Kicks. Kicks is the story of 15-year old Brandon (played by Jahking Guillory), an Oakland youth longing to escape from a life of poverty, neglect, and bullying. Brandon hopes a new, expensive pair of Air Jordans will help him improve his status and escape this harsh reality he lives in, but instead they make him a target. Soon he is beaten and his shoes stolen by a local hood. Brandon, resolves to stop at nothing to get them back.
Kicks received raving reviews from various critics.
“When Tipping gets the balance right, he can create images and sequences of real power, and one leaves the film eager to see him continue to calibrate his craft going forward” (Andrew Barker, Variety).
“Guillory’s performance – full of guts, determination and quiet anger; intense and yet simultaneously restrained – keeps you invested, as do the slick visuals”(David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter).
In an interview with Matt Barone, Tipping explained some of his thoughts on his creation. "The idea of using an expensive possession to feel some kind of confidence or purpose is relatable for anybody," he said. "On Wall Street, for example, it might be about what kind of watch you have. You think these objects are gonna define you and make people respect you, and that’s a universal feeling. There are girls who want the most expensive Gucci bag, but why? What are you trying to tell the world?" He also focused on the theme in the film of childhood violence, stating“ There's no reason why violence should be synonymous with masculinity and becoming a man as a teenager. As I've gotten older, that became one of the big themes behind Kicks.”
Kicks debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and will be available in theaters on September 9.
Our departmental faculty and graduate students was well represented at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in March!
Professor Lisa Parks's co-edited book has won the 2016 SCMS Best Edited Collection Award (Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the flagship organization for our field). The award is for Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015), co-edited with Nicole Starosielski (PhD, UCSB).
NYU Assistant Professor of Media Culture, and Communication Nicole Starosielski (PhD, UCSB) herself has won the 2016 SCMS Best First Book award for The Undersea Network (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015).
Departmental doctoral student Juan Llamas-Rodriguez has won second place in the SCMS Student Writing Award competition for his essay entitled "A Global Cinematic Experience in the Age of Luxury Branding," while doctoral student Daniel Grinberg has won third place for his essay, "Some Restrictions Apply: The Exhibition Spaces of Guantanamo Bay."
Departmental doctoral student Rachel Fabian has won the SCMS Women's Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize for her essay, "Reconsidering the Work of Claire Johnston," has been selected as the winner in the inaugural.
Warmest congratulations to Dr. Cynthia Felando on the publication of her book, Discovering Short Films!!!!
Discovering Short Films is the first serious, comprehensive, and historically-grounded study of the live-action fiction short film as a mode of storytelling with its own formal and aesthetic conventions. Although short films have been produced from the silent era through the present and are extremely numerous-and ever more so in the age of the Internet-the live-action fiction short has been treated to date as a transitional form, superseded in the mid-1910s with the inception of the feature-length film. Dr. Felando’s book revises this limited historiography, establishes the distinctiveness of the mode, and presents a canon of international short films that are analyzed in the body of the book and set out in the filmography that constitutes the Appendix.
The research for this field-changing book entailed years of travel to festivals around the world, communication with distributors, archival research, in-depth analysis, and, importantly, in-class programming and teaching.
Discovering Short Films is defining a new area of study, and we are all very fortunate that Dr. Felando is currently teaching the seminar FLMST 187SH: Short Films!!!
The Department is pleased to welcome and introduce two new Assistant Professors whose brilliant research, creative activities, and exciting new courses (see below!) will add greatly to our collective endeavor.
Welcome Dr. Alenda Chang and Dr. Laila Shereen Sakr! Long may you flourish in Film and Media Studies here at UCSB!
Professor Chang’s dissertation, Playing Nature: The Virtual Ecology of Game Environments, moves beyond representational analysis of video game aethetics (e.g. scenery and other in-game pictorial components) and beyond ideological analysis of video games’ infamous proclivities (e.g. video game violence), to an expansive understanding of game environmentsas virtual worlds, certainly, but also as mediascapes nested with the broader ecologies of the built and natural environments. Concerned with the relationship between mediated “playing” and mediated “nature,” Chang examines how digital games and interactive play are “implicated in and by natural systems,” including technology’s natural resource demands, computational protocols, modeling dynamics, feedback, scale, and extra-game landscapes and systems, and social ecologies.
Her current projects include Playing Nature, an ecological approach to computer and video games, as well as new and ongoing research in documentary, sound and media studies, and environmental literature. She also maintains the Growing Games blog, http://growinggames.net, which is a resource for game studies, environmental humanities, and ecomedia scholars.
An award-winning teacher, Professor Chang’s courses slated for the coming year are FAMST 166BA: Growing Games and, at the graduate level, FAMST 242ES: Ecologies of Scale.
Her published essays appear in Ant, Spider, Bee; The Information Society; Qui Parle; and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.
This research led her to design the R-Shief (in Arabic, “archive”) media system for archiving and analyzing content from social networking sites. The platform for a mind-boggling set of data—blogs, digital art works, and, according to Shereen Sakr, over twenty-six billion hashtag posts and “tweets”—R-Shief provides diverse groups the tools to track real-life developments and parse emergent patterns of discourse via semantic associations and circulating visual memes. Such pattern recognition mechanisms took on a pressing significance during the Arab Uprisings of 2011, as recurring hashtags like #Tahrir and #Jan25 rose to an informatic crescendo to produce discernible trends.
Laila Shereen Sakr is also a multimedia artist: working as VJ Um Amel (a video disc jockey with more than one hundred works of video remix and data visualization to her credit); as a live cinema performer; and as creator/presenter of R-Shief-related visualizations, computer applications, and media systems.
Professor Shereen Sakr’s areas of research and teaching span across Arab world and United States. She is fluent in Arabic (Egyptian dialect) and French. Her courses slated for the coming year are, in the Winter, FAMST 165DA Digital Activism and New Media in the Middle East and the graduate seminar, Data Visualization as Media Praxis, and, in the Spring FAMST 109:GA Glitch Art and Remix Cinematic Production.
She has shown her work in museums across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, and has published extensively. Recent reviews appear in The Wall Street Journal, Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Voice of America, The Monocle, Art Territories, Digital Media and Learning, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya, and The Creators Project.
Film and Media Studies focuses on film, television, and new media around the world. With 400 undergraduate majors and more than two dozen graduate students, FMS cultivates critical and analytical skills through the study of media objects and practices. Majors have the opportunity to interact closely with our distinguished faculty through collaborative research projects and to engage with a vibrant mix of activities and student organizations, such as the Screenwriters' Co-op, Reel Loud Film Festival, and Media Fields Journal. The department furthermore encourages students to explore future career paths and to build relationships with our network of committed alumni, many of whom return to campus regularly to share their experiences and insights. Our rigorous curriculum of study is fostering a new generation of visionaries with a stake in producing and understanding the future of screen media.