School of Cinema

Winners of Marcus Transformative Research Award announced


Three College of Liberal & Creative Arts faculty members are this year's recipients of the Marcus Transformative Research Award and will support research in subjects that include the potential for aesthetics and art to enhance cultural understanding, ballroom culture as a space for both healing and celebration, and an examination of racism, xenophobia, and homophobia through the lens of Korean pop music.

Hamid Khani

Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Professor Hamid Khani will produce “Cultural Harmony: In Search of a Common Ground,” a documentary film that explores the potential role of aesthetics and art as tools for cultural understanding. The documentary will explore five ancient Judeo-Christian monuments in Iran to promote cultural harmony in an effort to dispel narratives of fear, exclusion and mistrust. The documentary is centered on inclusive, diverse and equitable narrative and constructivist frameworks in search of common cultural heritage and similarities between Judeo-Christian, Iranian and Islamic architecture, art, aesthetics and culture.

“I am excited about this project and thankful to both the college committee and the LCA leadership for giving me the opportunity to highlight our common humanities despite all the noise promoting otherness and us against them mentality through my project,” says Khani. “This project is an attempt to contribute to our diverse, yet similar, stories and experiences in line with the LCA's mission ‘to find collective solutions to pressing global and social issues.’”

Johnny Symons

“Get Your 10s” is a feature-length documentary planned by Associate Professor of Cinema Johnny Symons that follows Rashaad Newsome, a Black queer artist from the American South, as he creates his most ambitious project yet: a multi-platform, experiential performance at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory. Complete with a 30-foot hologram, a gospel choir, the premier vogue dancers from the US, Japan, Brazil, and Ukraine, and a spirited non-binary artificial intelligence named Being, Rashaad transforms a historic military building into a sanctuary for healing and celebration. In the process, he reveals how art and ballroom culture can help us collectively imagine a brighter future.

“In the wake of the pandemic and a difficult economy, it’s an especially challenging time to complete a feature-length documentary and this award provides me with the ability to dig deeply into crafting this important story. At a time when LGBTQ+ lives are being increasingly denigrated and legislated, this film showcases the talents of queer, trans and BIPOC artists and dancers and inspires us to use our imaginations to work towards a more equitable world,” says Symons. “The time and funds afforded by this award will go directly towards editing, finishing and releasing the film in festivals and streaming services, with the collaborative support of SFSU students and recent alums.”

Yutian Wong

“Dancing in the Archives of Sincerity” is a book planned by Theatre & Dance Professor Yutian Wong about the intersection of a global health crisis, the resurgence of anti-Asian racism, and dance studies. Using the Korean pop music act BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondon) as a case study, the book examines how conversations about racism/xenophobia, homophobia, cultural hierarchies, and the roles and responsibilities of the artist in society are taking place from the space of Asian popular culture.

“How dance is produced, performed, and taught changed overnight when theaters, studios, and other public spaces closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Professor Wong. “Long-held assumptions about dance and how to conduct dance research were completely upended, so my book is a response to teaching about dance and doing dance research in the aftermath of a global health crisis. This Marcus Transformative Research Award affords me the time to reflect on this massive disciplinary shift and complete the book manuscript.”


About the The Marcus Transformative Research Award

The Marcus Transformative Research Award provides one semester leave with pay and a $3,000 research budget. The award is made possible by the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts, which was established in 2018 with a $25-million gift to SF State.


George and Judy Marcus for Excellence in Liberal Arts

Romanian Film Festival

For two days the School of Cinema presents a selection of outstanding contemporary Romanian films in Coppola Theater. Two directors will be discussing their films in person. Admission is free and open to the general public.

Friday, April 21

5 p.m.  Potemkinistii

Directed by Radu Jude, 2022, 18 minutes

In 1905, the sailors on the battleship Potemkin are given political asylum in Romania - an act of defiance against Russia. In 2021, a sculptor (Alexandru Dabija) wants to create an artwork inspired by the event. A comedy about art, history, memory and cinema, which film critic Andrei Gorzo describes as "a cross between a Caragiale sketch and a Mark Rappaport video essay."

5:30 p.m.  My sister and I (student short film)

Directed by Theodor Ionita, 2022, 17 minutes (in person)

Suddenly, she gets a call from her sister asking for bandages. Luana hurries to her house, where she finds Ana troubled, with her husband Dan injured in the hand. Although he has lost a lot of blood, Dan does not want to call an ambulance and Ana complies. Luana begins to suspect what happened and insists on calling for help, but Dan gets angrier and angrier, until things get out of hand.

6 p.m.  Opening Reception

7 p.m.  Miracle

Directed by Bogdan George Apetrei, 2021, 118 minutes (in person)

A young nun sneaks out of her monastery to attend an urgent matter but never makes it back and a police detective's investigation into her fate uncovers clues and revelations that lead not only to the truth but a miracle as well.

Saturday, April 22

2 p.m.  Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

Directed by Radu Jude, 2021, 106 minutes

Emi, a school teacher, finds her career and reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet. Forced to meet the parents demanding her dismissal, Emi refuses to surrender to their pressure.

4 p.m.  Men of Deeds

Directed by Paul Negoescu, 2022, 105 minutes

Ilie (late 30s) enjoys the easy life of a village policeman. His passivity during a series of violent events soon turns him into an accomplice to murder. Tension accumulates in the village, forcing Ilie to make a final decision.

6 p.m.  Dinner

7 p.m.  R.M.N.

Directed by Cristian Mungiu, 2022, 125 minutes

Nominee for Palm d'Or at Cannes in 2022, this film is a non-judgmental analysis of the driving forces of human behavior when confronted with the unknown.

Alum’s Oscar-nominated film shows transformative power of kindness

‘Stranger at the Gate’ is screening in San Rafael Feb. 28

San Francisco State University alumnus Conall Jones (B.A., ’05) was floored when he learned the short documentary film he produced with the production company Smartypants was nominated for an Oscar. “Stranger at the Gate” is his proudest accomplishment to date, but the film wasn’t getting critical recognition at first. It wasn’t accepted into the Sundance, Telluride or SXSW film festivals, he says. But Jones wasn’t looking for recognition — what he wanted was people to see the film because of its powerful message.

Read the full article.

'Chinatown Rising' film showing and Q&A, Feb. 21

The Marcus Endowed Chair of Social Justice Film in the School of Cinema will host a showing of the film “Chinatown Rising,” co-directed by alumnus Harry Chuck (pictured), on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Coppola Theater. Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement of the mid-1960s, Chuck, then a young San Francisco Chinatown resident armed with a 16mm camera and leftover film scraps from a local TV station, turned his lens onto his community. Totaling more than 20,000 feet of film (10 hours), Chuck’s exquisite unreleased footage captured a divided community’s struggles for self-determination.

Harry Chuck earned his M.A. from SF State’s Film Arts Department, where he served as a student assistant in film history. “Chinatown Rising” uses his footage from the ’60s to help tell the story of the Asian American movement from the perspective of the young residents on the front lines of their historic neighborhood in transition. Through publicly challenging the conservative views of their elders, their demonstrations and protests of the 1960s-1980s rattled the once-quiet streets during the community’s shift in power. Forty-five years later, in intimate interviews, these activists recall their roles and experiences in response to the need for social change. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with co-directors/producers Josh Chuck and Harry Chuck.

This event is sponsored by Asian American Studies, AAPI Student Services and ASPIRELearn more about the screening on the College of Ethnic Studies website.