Dean responds to changes at Black Film Center/Archive

The Media School Report • Aug. 1, 2017

During the past several months, Professor Michael T. Martin and I have discussed the mission and future of the Black Film Center/Archive, and consequently, Professor Martin has decided to step down as its director. We are grateful to Professor Martin for his nine years of tremendous leadership and the many contributions he has made to the BFC/A. The center thrived under his direction, and we will miss his vision.

Since 1981, the work of the BFC/A to celebrate contributions to the film canon by people of African descent has been a source of great pride to the university. For more than 35 years, students and faculty, as well as scholars from all over the country, have benefited from its rich collection and programs.

That legacy will continue. I want to assure the community that, while the BFC/A, like all other centers, is subject to some annual fluctuation in its resources, The Media School continues to provide substantial funding to the BCF/A.  Indeed, the BCF/A receives the most funding of all the centers within our school. That commitment will continue to be reflected in the ongoing acquisition of materials, in the promotion of black film, and in interdisciplinary collaborations. Furthermore, none of the staff, functions or activities related to the BFC/A are at risk; they are and will continue to be fully supported by The Media School.

Moving forward, we will begin the process of recruiting and hiring a new BFC/A director. During the search process, the center will remain fully functioning, with all planned activities still taking place.

We look forward to the BFC/A’s fall slate, which includes events such as:

  • participating in the IU Libraries Primary Source Immersion Workshop, Aug. 8-10, consulting with faculty – including professors from The Media School, the School of Education, the School of Public Health, the Department of Gender Studies and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese – to explore the use of BFC/A collections as part of their coursework;
  • preparing exhibits from the BFC/A collections to be installed at the IU Cinema (Phil Moore Collection) and Franklin Hall (Josef Gugler African and Middle Eastern Film Collection);
  • sponsoring and hosting a Sept. 25 screening of Sonia Lowman’s documentary Teach Us All, to be followed by a panel discussion on educational inequality. This event coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s integration of Central High;
  • co-sponsoring, with the Department of Anthropology and the African Studies Program, a visit by Burkinabe filmmaker Dani Kouyaté and a Sept. 28 screening of his feature Medan Vi Lever (While We Live); and
  • co-sponsoring Institute for Advanced Study Visiting Fellow Jane Bryce, professor emerita of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, for her Sept. 28 lecture, “Queering Omeros: Isaac Julien’s Encore (Paradise Omeros: Redux).”

Thank you to those of you who expressed your concerns. We appreciate your passion for the BFC/A. The past, present, and future of the center are vitally important to IU, and we are committed to upholding its high standards.

James Shanahan
The Media School at Indiana University