February 5, 2024

Visual Arts Program at the Lewis Center for the Arts presents a screening of student work in film, video, and digital animation

The Visual Arts Program at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts will present a screening of more than 30 short student films created in the fall 2023 semester courses “Documentary Filmmaking I” and “Representation in Documentary Filmmaking,” taught by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, “Digital Animation” taught by Tim Szetela, and “Narrative Filmmaking I” taught by Moon Molson. The documentary films will be screened on Tuesday, February 20, followed by animated and narrative films on Thursday, February 22. Both screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. in the James Stewart Film Theater, located on the first floor of 185 Nassau Street. Refreshments will be served on both evenings. The events are free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The Film Theater is an accessible venue. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

Perlmutt’s documentary filmmaking course introduces students to the art, craft, and theory behind attempts to answer the question: what relationships have the necessary friction to generate compelling films? Through productions, readings, screenings, and discussions, students entered the world of non-fiction filmmaking and analyzed documentary filmmaking as an aesthetic practice and a means of social discourse. As directors, the students also examined the formal, social, and political concerns that animate their own lives and practice translating those concerns to the screen.

A person stands smiling in front of the tall stalks of a cornfield.

A still from the short documentary film Lao Zhu’s Farm by Princeton student Faith Ho ’27, created in the course “Representation in Documentary Filmmaking.” Photo courtesy Faith Ho

In the Freshman Seminar course “Representation in Documentary Filmmaking,” Perlmutt engaged first-year students with cross-cultural issues surrounding representation—both in front of and behind the camera—in films. Through film screenings, texts, and discussions, students explored the central question of “who has the right to tell whose story, and why?” Over the duration of the seminar, each student produced, directed, shot, and edited two short documentary films. Ultimately, the students concluded the class having gained a solid foundation for creatively bringing to life true stories from the world through film.

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt most recently directed the Emmy-nominated historical documentary Massacre at the Stadium (Netflix, 2019). He directed, produced, and edited Havana Motor Club (Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2016), which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and screened as part of the exhibition Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture at the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao. His other documentary film work includes Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel, Lumo, Control Room, Valentino: The Last Emperor, Les Vulnerables, Invisible Killers: Ebola, Man V. Volcano, and other projects. Perlmutt’s commercial work has included directing and editing over 30 spots for Estée Lauder, Gucci, BULGARI, Rag & Bone, Samsung, H&M, Vogue, Chloe, Tods, Jimmy Choo, Kohl’s, Carrera, San Pellegrino, Loréal, Guess, and Interview Magazine. He has served as a correspondent for UNICEF and has made films for NGOs including The Chopra Center, HelpAge International, UNIFEM, the New York Academy of Medicine, Every Mother Counts, and HEAL Africa. Perlmutt is a member of the Director’s Guild of America, the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Indie Film,” and a recipient of two Sundance Institute/Sloan Foundation grants. Prior to Princeton, he taught filmmaking at Columbia University, William Paterson University, and for organizations in Africa.

In Molson’s narrative filmmaking courses, students received an introduction to narrative and avant-garde narrative film production by way of hands-on digital video exercises, film screenings, critical readings, and group critiques. Students learned the basic tools and techniques for storytelling with digital media through technical instruction in camera operation, nonlinear editing, and sound design paired with the conceptual frameworks of shot design, visual composition, film grammar, and cinema syntax.

Molson’s short films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at over 250 international film festivals, and have received more than 100 awards worldwide, including the Grand Jury Prizes at Palm Springs, South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Student Academy Awards. His screenplay Johnny Ace was a finalist for Best Screenplay at the 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival. Most recently, his screenplay Hyper/Space won top honors at the 2022 Urbanworld Film Festival and was selected as a finalist in the AT&T Untold Stories competition at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. He has attended the 2008 Sundance Screenwriters & Directors Labs, the 2008 Film Independent Directors (FIND) Labs, the 2015 Warner Brothers Television Directors’ Workshop, and 2016 Fox Global Directors Initiative as a Fox Director Fellow. Molson was named a 2017 Pew Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Film-Video, and was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in summer 2007. He has received grants from the San Francisco Film Society, The Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and the Sundance Institute.

A colorful animation of three white dress shirts with pink ties.

A still from the animated film No Birthday Party by Princeton student Magnolia Wilkinson ’24, created in a “Digital Animation” course. Photo courtesy Magnolia Wilkinson

In “Digital Animation,” Tim Szetela explains animation to students as the production, design, and study of motion. They worked with a variety of timed-based collage, composition, visualization, and storytelling techniques while learning the fundamental technology of 2D animation. Students explored the connective space between sound, image, and motion that is made possible through animation, and they produced a range of short animated films throughout the course.

Szetela is a designer, animator and digital artist who makes moving images, games, and assorted interfaces to visualize location, language, and other patterns. Rewordable, the game he co-designed using computational linguistics, was published by Penguin Random House. His short films have screened at numerous international animation festivals, including Anima Mundi, Annecy, Ottawa International Animation Festival, and Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films. He has shown work at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, as well as a variety of digital art, game, and technology festivals and exhibitions. Szetela has taught digital animation and data drawing courses in the Program in Visual Arts since 2017. At Princeton in fall 2022, he organized Games &&, a symposium featuring artists, designers, and researchers who explore and experiment with the tools and techniques of game design and development.

The screenings feature work by undergraduate students Ajimelec Gonzalez, Al Potter, Alyssa Batcheler, Ammon Love, Athena Clendaniel, Brian Phillips, Chana Mitty, Daniel Yeo, Destine Harrison-Williams, Dorothy Chan, Elijah Patterson, Emi Yun, Evelyn Walsh, Faith Ho, Hailey Mead, Jessica Poon, Justin Zhang, Karina Macosko, Lauren Kim, Lawrence Wang, Lily Webb, Lucia Tsurumaki, Magnolia Wilkinson, Marisa Hirschfield, Michelle Liu, Nicole Tacconi, Nivan Dhamija, Noam Rabinovitz, Oriana Parsa, Paige Morton, Parker Connelly, Payge Neals, Simone Kirkevold, Sungmin Kim, Theodore Kim, Tiffany Deane, Tyler Wilson, and Vincent Gerardi.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about this event, the Program in Visual Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, and lectures presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, most of them free.

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