Welcome Back

"When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it."  

--Amanda Gorman, "The Hill We Climb" 

Dear Film at Mason students: 

Welcome back to the Film and Video Studies program at Mason. Once again, we're connecting virtually, for now. We're happy to have you all as part of remarkable community. And we appreciate National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman's reminder that artists -- you -- can help everyone see and be light.  

We look forward to seeing you online starting January 25, and, in the near future, in person. Our dedicated faculty and staff have put together an array of innovative courses and opportunities for the coming semester. Each course features accessible hardware and software, and asynchronous and/or synchronous schedules. These courses include editing and sound, cinematography, producing, screenwriting, documentary, and career development, as well as Afrofuturism and Interactive Storytelling for Social Change.  

As you plan your semester, take a look at our resources. In addition to our Film and Video Studies website, you'll find information, forms and forums, and events on our FAVS Blackboard site.  

Please save these dates.  

Friday, Feb 5th: Winter Warm Up, from 1-3pm on Zoom. You can meet faculty and staff, learn about student organizations, including our Student Advisory Council, and hear about campus jobs. Senior filmmakers will tell us about their work. And there will be games (!). 

**If you have a Film class during this time, your professor will excuse you to attend the event. If you are in a non-FAVS class during this time, please reach out to Lori Yi to discuss. 

Friday Feb 26 6pm: Visiting Filmmakers Series on Zoom. Visiting Filmmakers Series: Black Lives Matter is bringing award-winning films and independent filmmakers to you virtually. The first event this semester is a discussion with Mama Gloria director Luchina Fisher. Check our site to see who else is coming. And please take the opportunity to meet these working artists: they want to be resources for young artists.  

More events will be announced throughout the semester. Keep current on these and other opportunities by checking your Mason email, visiting our website and Blackboard, and liking us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

One more note: Abby Akhamie, our wonderful Production Manager, won't be at Mason this semester. She's moving on to a new creative opportunity. We're proud of her, wish her all best energy going forward, and thank her for everything she's done for Film at Mason. I want to add, for myself, that I am grateful to know her and look forward to seeing more of her light.  


Cynthia Fuchs
Interim Program Director and Associate Professor  |  
Direcor, Visiting Filmmakers Series

A Note from Abby Akhamie

It is with a heavy heart that I announce my departure from the FAVS program effective January 26, 2021. I will be pursuing an opportunity to further develop my debut feature film. As a proud Mason alum, it has been my honor to share my knowledge and skills with students, staff, and faculty as your Production Manager. I wish you all the best in your personal and career endeavors and I look forward to our paths crossing again in the near future. Continue to nourish and develop your voice and you will be amazed where it will take you! For any outstanding departmental questions and/or concerns, please contact Samantha Sinagra,

Winter Warm-up and Production Fair

Get cozy at home while sipping on some hot cocoa in your favorite mug. Chat with Film at Mason faculty and staff, learn about campus resources, welcome back new and current students, and join us for fun games and prizes. If you are directing a senior film, come prepared to pitch your project. Sign-ups will be provided for virtual student crew positions.

This event is open to all film, music, theater, and art students. 

Zoom link:

Friday, February 5, 2021, 1pm - 3pm 
1:00pm - 1:15pm Faculty and Staff Intros
1:15pm - 1:20pm Film and Media Librarian Heather Darnell
1:20pm - 1:25pm Phil Wilkerson and Career Services
1:25pm - 1:30pm DKA and Mason Film Club
1:30pm - 1:45pm Student Advisory Council
1:45pm - 2:15pm Senior Presentations (2 min each)
2:15pm - 3:00pm Fun and Games

Last Day to Add

February 1st is the last day to add. View Patriot Web for a list of remaining open courses.  If you have questions about registration, email the Mason Film program or make an appointment with Academic Advisor Lori Yi. 
We still have open spots in FAVS 399 Afrofuturism and Their Kin.
Instructor: Nikyatu Jusu | Online, T 1:30-4:10
Students will explore the history and contexts of Afrofuturism, which has roots in African-American science fiction and now refers more broadly to literature, music, and visual art that explore the African diasporas experience. The course will focus on creative aspects including short script-writing, filmic storytelling, and online discussion with working filmmakers. 
Questions? Ask Professor Jusu at

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online:

Black Lives Matter

The Visiting Filmmakers Series (VFS) is online this spring.  Since 1995, the Series, curated by Interim Program Director Cynthia Fuchs, has featured a variety of films and guests at the Fairfax campus. This semester, the Series is focused on social justice, racial equality, and Black Lives Matter
Friday, Feb 26th, 6:00pm EST Luchina Fisher with Mama Gloria / Hosted by Yvonne Welbon
Thursday, March 11th, 7:30pm EST Hollywood TV Writing with Mason alum and writer Hank Jones (Dear White People, grown-ish) / Hosted by Professor Peter Kimball
Tuesday, March 16th, 1:30pm EST Stefon Bristol with See You Yesterday (see the film on Netflix) / Hosted by Professor Nikyatu Jusu
Friday, March 26th, 6:00pm EST Joyce Sherrí with Beauty and Forever
For more information and to register for the Series on Zoom, click on the below images. The Visiting Filmmakers Series is free and open to the public.

Young Alumni

Commissioning Project

CVPA just announced the third iteration of the Young Alumni Commissioning Project. The program will provide grants to up to three CVPA alumni (from the class of 2010 and after) for the creation of original work. Applications are due on February 5, 2021.

For more information and to learn how to apply, visit CVPA’s website here.

Student Spotlight

Film at Mason student Victor Danos interned with Arazo Media last semester as part of his FAVS 450 Internship course. Victor worked with the Arazo team and film director Artem Koker to finish a feature documentary titled Affected: The Story of Us. The film focuses on a small business owner who lost over 90% of his revenue in a matter of months after Covid 19- hit the United States. Frustrated and broke, the business owner decides to document the lives of others who have been affected by the virus. 

From the first day of production, Victor worked on the film as second camera operator and the behind the scenes photographer and videographer. He also assisted with some of the editing in post-production. Victor says that he was “excited to work on something that had meaning and related to people’s daily lives during such a difficult year.” The film has been viewed across 52 different counties and is being considered for over 29 different festivals, including Tribeca, SXSW, and Sundance. 
For more information, visit the film’s website here.

Alumni Achievement

Congratulations to Film at Mason alumna Alaa Zabara

Alaa was recently named a 2021 Branded Lab Fellow by Minorities in Film. The MiFILM Branded lab was designed to increase representation for BIPOC/Differently-Abled Directors in the digital advertising space. 5 fellows will work with a group of agencies and mentors to develop treatments to propel them forward, on their journeys to become Commercial Directors.

Faculty Achievement

Congratulations to our Film at Mason faculty who have been nominated for teaching excellence awards by the Stearns Center. Professors Samirah Alkassim and May Santiago are nominated for Online Teaching Awards. Professor Amanda Kraus is nominated for a Term Faculty Teaching Award and Professor Cynthia Fuchs is nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award. We are so lucky to have such amazing instructors in our program. Best of luck to you all!
Left to right: Samirah Alkassim, May Santiago, Amanda Kraus, Cynthia Fuchs
Congratulations to Professor Peter Kimball, who is a finalist in the 2021 Willamette Film Lab. He will participate in an online writers' room this February. Professor Kimball is teaching FAVS 280 Writing for the Moving Image and FAVS 380 TV Writing this semester.

For more information on the Williamette Film Lab, visit

Shoutout to Professor Russell Santos, editor for Jon Batiste's latest music video, "I Need You." Check out the video which just dropped last week. 

Professor Santos is teaching FAVS 331 Cinematography and FAVS 431 Advanced Cinematography this spring. 

Professor Sara Barger’s film “Little But Fierce” is now available on Amazon. The film was recently awarded a Spotlight Documentary Film Gold Award and was a finalist for the Student Academy Awards.
Professor Barger is teaching FAVS 255 Video Production and FAVS 400 Career Development this spring. She is also the Vice President of Women in Film and Video's Board of Directors

Staff Achievement

Congratulations to Lori Yi, our wonderful Film at Mason academic advisor. Lori was recently nominated for the University’s Jade Barricelli Spirit of Academic Advising Excellence Award.

Save the date for Andrew Jorgensen's film screening of The Sun and the Medicine Man. The film is scheduled to screen on Friday, February 19th at 7:30pm. Check back for more information and a screening link in the next newsletter.
Andrew is our Film at Mason Technical Coordinator and a Film alum. He is a recipient of the 2019 CVPA Young Alumni Commissioning Project

Support a Student

After dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, many students have faced financial burden. Some lack the funds to pay for rent, tuition, and food. University Life has established a Student  Emergency Assistance Fund aimed at providing students with immediate assistance. Please consider giving to this fund. Financial assistance is a major part of our students’ well-being and every donation helps!

Filmmaker Fridays

Eugene Ashe is a Writer-Director whose film, Sylvie's Love, has received critical acclaim for its depiction of a Black love story in Harlem during the 1960s. Sylvie's Love premiered at Sundance in 2020 and is available on Amazon Prime Video. Ashe is also known for his feature film Homecoming, and is a former Sony Music recording artist. 
Kira Kelly is a nationally-renowned cinematographer who has received Emmy nominations for her work on Insecure & 13th (the latter of which she shares with our own Prof. Hans Charles). Kelly has also worked on Queen Sugar & Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.
Writer and Director David E. Talbert has recently been put into the spotlight for his newest film, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. The film features a predominantly black cast (including Forest Whitaker & Keegan-Michael Key) in a heartwarming story that is sure to have a major impact on Christmas movies going forward. Talbert has written and directed films such as Baggage Claim and Almost Christmas, and has won multiple NAACP awards.

Film Opportunities and Resources

Open Submissions
  • Apply to the inaugural IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. Four filmmaking teams will be chosen to participate in a one-year lab focused on short-documentary production and career training, and receive a $25,000 production grant. It’s free to apply and the submission portal will remain open until the max capacity of applications are received. The application portal will open on January 15, 2021 and close once we receive max capacity of applications.

  • Kickstarter Open Call for Creators: Have a short you’ve been wanting to create? If gathering funds and community support for your short film is something you’ve been mulling over for a while, mull no more. Kickstarter invites emerging and established filmmakers, film students, and other enthusiastic cinephiles to make something new.
Film Festival Submissions
  • The Bethesda Film Fest is accepting submissions for the 9th annual festival in April 2021. Short documentary films by filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. will be considered. Films must have been completed within the last two years. All topics are eligible. Submission deadline: January 29, 2021
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We want to hear from you! If you have news you would like to contribute, please send it to We are looking for regional film events and updates from Film at Mason alumni. Keep up-to-date on all the current Film at Mason news at

Film and Video Studies
College of Visual and Performing Arts
4400 University Dr. MSN 5D8
Fairfax, VA 22030
703-993-3287 |
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