Black Film Center/Archive announces second cycle of research fellowship

Austin Faulds • April 23, 2018
Dr. Terri Francis, Director of the Black Film Center/Archive

Earlier this month, the Black Film Center/Archive (BFC/A) announced the second cycle of its Visiting Research Fellowships, which help to promote student research toward a certain thesis, dissertation, presentation, production or publication.

The BFC/A is an historical film center dedicated to the collection, preservation and creation of films by and about those of African descent, the first repository of its kind. Its director, Dr. Terri Francis, described it as “an incubator” where ideas are born.

“We are a living, breathing center of black film study and creativity as well as an incredible historical collection,” Francis said. “We’re bringing the people to us.”

The inaugural fellows for the first cycle of the fellowship were chosen in March. The fellows are Jerome Dent, Katherine Fusco, Steve Ryfle, Nicholas Forster and Yasmin Desouki. Each have their own distinct projects and research they are pursuing, which Francis said she believes is reflective of the “multifaced nature” of not only BFC/A’s accomplishments, but also the accomplishments of all black film studies.  

“It’s wonderful to see what people are working on and to imagine how we can contribute to the necessary study of black film in all its forms across the varied communities we serve,” Francis said.

The main intent behind these competitive fellowships is to not only promote the work done by the BFC/A, but also to further advance the work being done by black media as a whole, Francis said.

Applications to apply to the second cycle opened earlier this month, and the deadline will be August 15 this year. Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be distributed on September 15. Chosen fellows receive up to $1,500 each. The awards must be used up by a year following distribution, and the financial assistance is solely intended for research use.

Read a little more about each of the inaugural fellows below:  

Jerome Dent, PhD Candidate, University of Rochester

Jerome Dent is a California native, but his academic studies have brought him to locations all across the United States. He has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and African American from the University of California, as well as a two M.A.’s in Humanities and Visual and Cultural Studies, from Mount St. Mary’s University and the University of Rochester respectively. His dissertation is focused on the figure of blackness and it is represented in contemporary fiction films.

Yasmin Desouki, Artistic Director, Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre, Cairo, Egypt

Yasmin Desouki is a film archivist, researcher and programmer who studied Cinema Studies and Film Archiving and Preservation at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, she works as director of the Cimatheque-Alternative Film Centre in Cairo, Egypt. Her work there is the basis of her project, which explores the various film archiving initiatives spearheaded by the film center where she works, as well as the history of North African cinemas.   

Nicholas Forster, PhD Candidate, Yale University

Nicholas Forster is a writer and PhD candidate in African American Studies, as well as Film and Media Studies, at Yale University. Currently, he is working on a biography about actor-director-playwright Bill Gunn, most recognized for directing the experimental horror movie “Ganja and Hess” in 1973. He’ll be researching the “Mary Perry Smith Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Archives Collection” to develop a thorough understanding of black independent filmmaking through the 1980s.

Katherine Fusco, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno

Katherine Fusco teaches film, theory and American literature at the University of Nevada, Reno as an assistant professor. She has written books both on silent film and the contemporary American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt. Her project focuses on the rise of black film extras and supporting characters during the 1930s, following the rise of black musical performance in Hollywood films.

Steve Ryfle, Independent Researcher, Los Angeles

Steve Ryfle is a journalist and film historian, based in Los Angeles, who has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He co-wrote the screenplay for the currently touring documentary film Miracle on 42nd Street. His project focuses on the influence of the Civil Rights movement on film and how it laid the foundations for current protests concerning race in Hollywood.