2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Film Festivals as Teaching Tools: The University of Washington Bothell Independent Film Festival

Tami Blumenfield (Anthropology, UW Bothell Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences)

In the fall of 2008, I taught an interdisciplinary course on film festivals and indigenous media at the University of Washington Bothell (BIS 339B) as part of the Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy. Students developed a firsthand knowledge of media production and circulation by organizing a two-day campus film festival. With assistance from a UW Seattle student, they worked in five committees to tackle the logistical and artistic elements of this event. Students also visited other film festivals to compare and develop a firsthand understanding of film festivals prior to the one on our campus. Finally, guest speakers who had planned film festivals in other cities shared their perspectives with the class.

After the festival, students commented, I never knew how much effort it takes to organize a film festival. Many cited it as a great learning experience. Others expressed disappointment that turnouts were not higher.

As a new instructor at the campus, this experience helped me learn immediately how to navigate resources and develop relationships with colleagues whose work complemented this project. I worked closely with the Office of Student Life and sponsored a new student organization, the Film Club, to support the festival as well.

I learned that adding a practical project component to a course that meets for 4 hours once a week has both benefits and challenges. Working on film festival planning created hands-on learning activities to supplement film screenings, lecture, and discussion. The long class periods meant that we could divide into committees and screen submitted films during class, then assess them together. Conversely, students felt overwhelmed by the logistical challenges of planning a festival while also reading and writing about indigenous media. Several suggested that the course be taught in a twice-weekly format rather than a single weekly block. I will modify the course as they suggest in 2010.


Index of Symposium Presenters